There are few things that will bring your company down faster than high turnover, especially when your top stars start heading for the door. Record turnover in a short amount of time can leave your company hemorrhaging, unable to service your customers and unable to hit your revenue targets.
And turnover is an interesting thing, because often times we make up stories about why our people are leaving just to fool ourselves from the truth. We say things like "they had a great opportunity" - or "they left to pursue another dream" - and most of time these are nonsense excuses.
The reality is people don’t leave jobs; they leave people. In many cases, those people are their direct managers. But in many more cases, they aren't leaving because of their direct manager.
They are leaving because they don't trust the leadership steering the ship.
This is a problem. A big problem. But not a problem that can't be solved by focusing on the following steps below.
1. Be Truthful. As a senior leader, we tend to think its better to keep secrets from our staff. After all, they may not be equipped to handle the important news, right?
When you create an environment of secrecy, this breeds mistrust. You can ask your executives and senior leaders to keep quiet, but it's inevitable that whatever news you're hiding will get out. And when it does, it will spread like wildfire. Because the water cooler is a sucker for gossip!
Instead of keeping secrets, bring your team on board for help. Share the "not-so-pretty" news and get their help resolving whatever challenges you are having. Employees will be engaged and motivated because they will have a voice. Let them use it to help you through your toughest times. You'll both benefit as a result.
2. Be Thankful. Here's the deal - high performers don't need many pats on the back. We work hard and excel simply because it's how we're wired. But eventually, even high performers will walk away if they feel under-appreciated.
The fix is easy and something your mother probably taught you to do. Just say thank you.
If they put in a ton of time to get through a particularly challenging week, say thank you. Say it publicly. Let others know you appreciate the efforts of those stars. It will motivate them and those around them to kick in a bit more when needed because they will know it doesn't go unnoticed.
3. Don't Just Be Thankful. Huh? Yes you heard that right. Verbal recognition is a powerful tool and shouldn't be underestimated. However, you can't expect to drive performance with simple thank-you's alone.
You need to reward your key players and the ones who work their a$$es off for you. Even if you can't afford much, find a creative way to show them with more than just words that their hard work means something to you. If it's all you can afford, small, unexpected bonuses can be powerful motivators.
Just remember this saying though... "Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered". If you're company is doing well, be sure to share the wealth. Because remember - we are living in an age where your star talent can easily walk out the door, start a business and steal your market share. So keep them happy and keep both your piggy banks full.
4. Don't Overwork Them. I know, you've got a lot to do in a short amount of time. And you don't want to spend the money on manpower to help you. So instead you jack up the amount of work for individuals who can handle the burden.
This may be a good strategy during short spurts and important quick hit projects, but companies will lose their good people if they burn them out with a consistent approach to work like this.
There is a ton of research out there that demonstrates productivity declines after a certain amount of hours worked. And this is counter-intuitive to what you are trying to accomplish.
To avoid this, try taking a step back and plan your projects out. Run through your resources on hand, the resources you need and craft a plan that is good for everyone. And for those times you need to push your people a little harder, remember to reward them for it! Because as stated above, working hard with little reward will get you little engagement for the future.
5. Care About Them - Not just about the job. Individualizing jobs is becoming the way of the future - so you need to get on board. Smart employees want to be recognized for who they are as an individual and as a person - not just a number on a spreadsheet.
While tailoring jobs was always frowned upon in the past (it was just too much work for employers), talented employees demand it for the future. They want to work in areas they enjoy and leave the other stuff behind.
By taking a hard look at individual talents, skills and what really makes them tick, you can create an environment where your team members are the happiest and most productive they can be. This will keep your turnover down and your revenues up!
6. Keep Your Word. Do what you say you're going to do. Nothing is worse than broken promises at work. Remember how broken promises felt as a child? Well at work they have bigger repercussions than just an unhappy face.
Employees will begin to resent leadership if they don't keep their word. If you need to change course, that's ok. Just be sure to explain to them why so they don't feel misled.
7. Don't Promote Your Friends. I can't stress this one enough. This is the biggest de-motivator by far for super stars. Imagine, you've been busting your butt when all of the sudden you find out your boss decided to promote cousin Sally's best friend Suzy instead. WTH?
This is a BIG no-no and a BIG mistake.
Companies need to be objective in their promotion and advancement decisions and evaluate every transaction with fresh eyes. Favoritism in the workplace (for the most part) isn't illegal, but it can kill your business faster than anything else. So don't do it. It's insulting to your key players and they will leave because of it.