Now that we’ve figured out how to select top performers and learned how to keep our teams motivated we should be in the clear, right? Well, if your firm is like the vast majority of those in staffing struggling with turnover in the 30 to 70 percent range, there’s a lot of work left to be done. It’s not enough to select the right people and keep them motivated. Attention needs to be paid to understanding why they stick around.
Firms in every industry find themselves in situations where they have found great talent and invested in them only to lose them when the employee “was just starting to get good.” So what really happens in these scenarios? Understanding why people leave a company is the first step in stopping the bleeding and developing strong retention strategies. There are tons of reasons why someone will leave a company but the most common reasons people leave an organization are due to conflicts with their immediate supervisor (leadership issue) or lack of professional growth (leadership issue). The top three reasons an employee leaves an organization are directly or indirectly attributable to leadership issues.
So recognizing that the most common reasons for why an employee leaves a company has to do with leadership, how can we fix the situation and hold on to our best talent? The answer to that question is actually simpler than what you may think. It starts with understanding that under most circumstances, an employee leaves an organization because of something they’re missing from us. Simply put, it’s not them, it’s me. When we think of leadership as a concept, it’s made up of three aspects: supervisory activities, mentoring activities, and training/coaching activities. As leaders of our organizations and teams, most of our time should be spent doing mentoring and training/coaching activities. Unfortunately, most managers end up spending most of their time managing the metrics-oriented supervisory aspects of their role.
In order to shift this supervisory paradigm that we’re all stuck in, we must do three key things. First we must teach a simple workflow for our lowest-level people to make sound decisions without our intervention. I call it the decision pyramid and it’s made up of three questions:
- Is this action good for the customer?
- Is this action good for our company? and
- Is this action ethical?
If your employees can say yes to all three questions, they should be able to act without your intervention. I would add that letting your people know “that there isn’t a mistake that they can make that we can’t fix” is an important coaching tip that should be part of your organizational DNA.
Once you’ve empowered your people to make their own decisions, you’ve laid the ground work to prepare them to grow within your organization. The second step in shifting the supervisory paradigm is to shift the focus of your conversations from being metrics-driven to being vision-driven. It’s important to talk about the metrics required for success in our organizations but that shouldn’t be the focus of the conversation. Oftentimes managers focus on the numbers without giving consideration for why an employee should even strive to achieve the numbers. Do we take the time to understand our employees’ passions and vision? If not, we need to. As part of our retention strategy, we need to meet our employees where they are and understand where they are going before we ever dive into the numbers. If we do this successfully, no employee will ever ask the question “Why am I here?”
Many firms think of the concept of growth and leadership in terms of promotions and the organizational chart. While that may be true for some, a real growth culture is a lot more than just promotions and the vertical hierarchy. The third step in the process of keeping and growing your talent is to build a culture of inquiry and innovation. This may sound complex, but if you’ve done the first two steps, this step is easy. You’ve empowered your people to make sound decisions, you’ve taken the time to learn what drives them, and now this step allows them to execute. All you’re doing is creating a culture where your team can look at any aspect of the business and identify the gaps in how things are done. Then you’re empowering them to find solutions for that problem. By taking this approach, you are preparing your people to stay with your organization and really make an impact independent of the size of your company.
Keeping your top talent is a critical issue for many firms. Any staffing firm that can speak to systems and processes they have in place to get the most out of their people will have significant competitive advantages. Shifting the focus of leadership from managing metrics to inspiring your people and creating an empowering culture will provide the necessary fuel for your people to keep moving your firm forward.
Discover how recruiting software from Bond can provide actionable information that can give leaders like you insight into employee retention strategies.