Three Ways to Improve Retention on Your Team

Guest post from Hilary Grosskopf:
Managing a team
can sometimes feels more like managing a revolving door. When retention is
poor, leaders spend valuable time interviewing and training rather than making
progress. For organizations, attrition is an expensive issue that takes money
away from impactful progress, innovation, employee benefits, and enjoyable team
activities. Intelligent hiring decisions and satisfying paychecks are not
enough to retain your best team members.
As a leader,
it’s essential to be proactive about your approach to engagement in order to build
your team and retain your best team members. Once your team is in place, team
members must feel a sense of clarity, healthy challenge, and connection every
day. When team members lose interest and motivation, they soon start to look
for a new opportunity that fills this void.
Three practices
that will help you retain your best team members and make more impactful
progress:
1. Give Clear Direction
Leaders often
give direction about responsibilities to individual team members when they join
the team. Over time, meetings to review objectives, responsibilities, and
progress move down on the priority list for busy leaders. However, it’s
essential to give frequent, clear direction in team meetings as well as in
one-on-one meetings with team members. Without clarity about objectives and
priorities from the central perspective of the leader, team members work in
different directions and people do redundant work. Misalignment around
priorities and delegation breeds animosity amongst the team. When team members are
not clear about their responsibilities and objectives, they become frustrated
and lose motivation. Team members need clarity and connection to the purpose of
their individual and the collective efforts. Spend time in team meetings
reviewing team objectives and facilitating two-way dialogue about priorities
and progress. Use a white board to write down objectives, talk through
timelines, and delegate tasks together. Spend time in weekly one-on-one
meetings reviewing individual objectives, responsibilities, and progress. 
2. Give Positive Acknowledgement
So many leaders
overlook the simple yet powerful practice of acknowledgement. When days feel
busy and getting the work done becomes a challenge in itself, leaders forget
that acknowledgement is what keeps team members motivated and connected.
Positive acknowledgement is a form of energy for team members. To fuel
productivity and provide motivation, give acknowledgement for small and large
accomplishments. A “thank you” in person or via e-mail goes a long way in
making a team member feel valued and appreciated for his or her work. During
team meetings or one-on-one meetings with team members, spend time
acknowledging wins and milestones. Lead by example in giving positive
acknowledgement and team members will start to give positive acknowledgement to
each other as well. 
3. Give Opportunities for Development
Leaders often
assume that opportunities for development and career growth only come with a
promotion. However, the best team members are always looking for opportunities
to learn, develop skills, and gain new experience. It’s up to the leader to
support team members in continuously growing, even between promotions. The most
engaging form of learning and development happens through special projects. A
special project is a project that adds new value to the team while also allowing
the team member to develop new skills. Is there a project you have been putting
on the back burner for a while? Is there a task or project you could hand off
to a team member? Spend time mentoring by transferring skills, giving
knowledge, and providing feedback during and after the project. Ideally, a
special project will help a team member prepare for the next level in his or
her career by building new skills and knowledge in alignment with his or her
interests. Other opportunities for development include team shadowing sessions
where team members can share skills and ideas, educational field trips where
team members can immerse in company context, and courses where team members can
build relevant skills and knowledge.

Though
retention is challenging in a fast-paced and competitive business environment,
leaders have the power to retain team members with authentic offerings that
money can’t buy. The best leaders provide clear direction, positive
acknowledgement, and opportunities for development. These practices give team
members peace of mind, healthy challenge, and genuine connection.