With a new year comes a look back at what went right and what didn’t go so right in 2011. Over the past 12 months we learned that over 50 percent of our employees said that if the economy were better, they’d change jobs. That speaks volumes about our workplace and how we manage.
What seems to be at the center of this issue is a disconnect between what employees do for work (not necessarily aligned with their talents or interests, so they don’t always feel capable or competent at their job) and a personal disconnect between employees and management.
I’ll give today’s managers a bit of slack because of the magnitude of things they have to manage in a workplace operating under the mantra of getting more done with less. But this just requires today’s managers to spend more time with each employee — to know how to better align employees to roles that play to what they do best, and to build a strong and powerful personal relationship with each one.
In the December issue of HR Magazine, Kathryn Tyler writes about the concept of “stay interviews” in her article, “Who Will Stay and Who Will Go?” Though most of us conduct “exit” interviews — where we discuss with a departing employee the reasons for the departure — few of us spend time with our employees discovering why they stay.
Today’s best performers possess meaningful information about the things that keep them showing up each day. It may be the education programs, the salary or incentive plan, the working environment, the team, location, product, or service. I guess with so many variables, it would be good to know which of these seems to have the greatest job “stickiness” with the best performers, so we can learn to do more of what really matters.
Here are some great questions to ask employees to understand why they stay:
- What makes a great day for you here?
- What do you look forward to doing each day?
- What do we do that supports you?
- What is your most (or least) favorite part of your role?
- What about our workplace/work day/team/company appeals to you?
- What keeps you here?
We don’t need the formality of the exit interview process with a stay interview; instead it can be conducted during regular interactions with employees, or at certain performance discussions.
But to be able to gather meaningful and honest information requires a good and trusting manager-employee relationship. So back to my first New Year’s resolution of 2012: Spend more time with each employee. Only by spending time together can we create the kind of relationship where employees not only stay around, but also actively contribute their ideas on how to improve our service, products, and team.
So while it’s important to find out why employees leave, it’s actually more important to find out why they stay. As managers, we need to know what matters to employees — what keeps great employees. Tyler concludes her article with a quote from Jack Wikie, the chief marketing officer and senior VP of development for NOVO 1: “Why wait for your top performers to leave?” he asks. “Take control of issues relating to productivity and attrition.” This will set you up for a more successful 2012.
Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr user Big Blue Ocean.