If you are a manager or a business owner who is concerned about employee retention and attrition, I highly suggest that you read this. It’s about time that you learn valuable lessons from the Next Big Thing and the budding superstar in Organizational Development, Corporate Efficiency, Personal and Work Excellence, Leadership, Volunteerism, and Motivational training.
Have you ever wondered why good to great employees leave your company or your team? Have you ever thought of what you could have done wrong or how you could have supervised them better when they were still with you?
‘Brain Drain’, according to Answers.com, is the loss of skilled intellectual and technical labor through the movement of such labor to more favorable geographic, economic, or professional environments.
It is one of those that a company avoids, stays away from, and is afraid of. It is also one of the measures of how well a company takes care of its people.
So, what should you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to your team or your company?
Take note that we are not going to talk about the reasons as to why people leave. Everybody already knows them. Only insensitive people deny or ignore the reasons because they simply don’t care. It’s even a cliché to elaborate them on this article as if it’s a new topic to discuss. What’s more important is that you know, acknowledge, appreciate and apply what must be done to make sure your company or department doesn’t suffer from “intellectuals’ loss” that could take its toll on its reputation, performance, and profits.
- Always set clear, detailed, and feasible set of expectations at the start of the performance period, any project, task, or assignment.
Employees complain and eventually leave especially when their failure in anything is not because they are incompetent and irresponsible but because you just got used to telling them what to do but don’t clarify to them what the success or performance indicators are. Success or performance indicators pertain to the standards, which their outputs are going to be measured against.
When you assign a task to your subordinate, be specific with your expectations. Describe to them what for you is a poor, a so-so, a good, a very good, or an excellent performance so as they are carrying out your instructions; they would know where they are at or if they are doing well or not. You will be able to teach them how to monitor and manage their own performance.
Your subordinates would get frustrated if you end up not being happy with their performance when they had been under the impression they were right on the track or they thought you would be pleased with their output. Thus, it would be unfair for them to get coached on something they thought, all along, was an excellent showing.
- In everything that you have them work on, always ask them what kind of help they need and whom they need support from.
What’s totally wrong with managers nowadays is that they expect their subordinates to take the initiative to let them know what help they need and whom they would ask them from. Keep in mind that each employee is different from each other. They have their own communication styles and level of maturity. Do not assume that it is their obligation to speak up and that otherwise, you would have no idea how you could be of service. Remember that there are some people who are just shy or who hesitate to approach you because you look very busy or you look like you don’t want to be disturbed. Even when there are some who are blessed with assertiveness and are overflowing with confidence, their effort to speak with you would be futile if you will not reach out or you will intentionally put a wall between you and them.
You need and must always look approachable regardless what your personality is. However, when I say approachable, I don’t mean to say too enthusiastic, overly-cheerful, or all-smiles. Do I? I recognize the fact that not all managers are born that way and not all can train themselves to be one especially that it is hard to force yourself to be a personality you’re not and will not be ever. Just be who you are. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just see to it that you are observant of your people and that when you notice that someone looks he would like to talk to you, you take the initiative to ask what you can help him with and that you accommodate sincerely. Also, be sensitive using your peripheral vision. When there’s a subordinate of yours who looks like he would like to have a moment with you, give him a smile and ask a simple “yes?” or “what can I do for you?”. What if what he’s going to tell you is an idea so great or a solution to a problem you’ve been thinking about? It will be your and the company’s loss.
- When you delegate a task or assign a responsibility, communication doesn’t end once you have already explained what must be done. It is still your obligation to monitor, check for understanding, give feedback, and assist during the implementation phase.
It’s an absurd excuse to say that after a task has been given and clarified, it is a basic expectation for the subordinate to deliver the goods on his own and take it upon himself to ask questions and clarify details when needed. It’s like saying it’s not any supervisor’s responsibility to follow up on the progress of the tasks, to check up on the person to see if he’s doing well, and to give feedback to correct or improve performance. What’s worse is when supervisors say they don’t have the time or they appear that they don’t have time, which is on purpose.
People leave companies that have managers who don’t seem to care whether their subordinates succeed in what they do or not. They resign when they know they’re not in good hands. They turn their backs on companies whose designated leaders don’t make an effort to touch base with their employees on a regular basis to evaluate how they are executing everything that has been planned and make sure their people are not having difficulties.
Are you super busy? Do you have more pressing; urgent matters to attend to? Do you have a lot of meetings to join? Do you have equally important personal tasks of your own? Do you expect them to act their age and to voluntarily look for you, call you, text you, or wait on you when they need anything? I’m asking because for sure, these are some of the reasons you might say in return in your defense. Right? Bear in mind that you are the manager. No matter how busy you are, it’s a hallmark of being an effective leader or being efficient in supervising people if you find time for them.
- Make your office a fun place to work in no matter how stressful it is.
Not all employees are only motivated by pay, bonuses, and other benefits. There are also other people who like and need for their social needs to be met at work. They are also looking for a workplace in which regardless how much pressure they feel or how difficult the job is, they don’t get burned out or they feel like they’re not even working at all.
The best place to work in is an office in which nobody gets reprimanded for chatting so long as priorities are not being compromised and that the expected results on a daily basis are being delivered on time and with quality. Also, isn’t it nice to work in a place where people crack jokes every so often just so as to break the ice of formality and stiffness and the boss doesn’t mind for as long as the goods are delivered?
Some traditional and old-fashioned managers discourage too much chatting and having fun at work. They think that their employees’ work is being jeopardized if they tolerate loosening up for a bit every so often. They assume that their employees don’t know how to manage their priorities and that it’s only a waste of time. They require that their employees mind their own business and stay glued onto their PC monitors. This is the very reason why some employees turn in their resignation letters. Nobody could stomach staying in a company like this for so long. For sure, they would look for a better company that is managed by employee-friendly people.
As a manager or supervisor, you are their grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, older brother, or older sister at work. You and your subordinates are better off enjoying while working. As they say, people who work hard yet play harder become much more productive, committed, dedicated, and resilient. Some statistics even prove that people who work in a company that’s like their second house or home bring in more results and are much happier and greatly contented.
So, chillax with your people and you will observe the major difference between a too-serious-to-a-fault and gloomy working environment and one that promotes enjoyment.
- Organize employee engagement activities and schedule team outings when necessary every now and then.
Nobody would like to work for a boss or stay long in a company who only has work in mind all fiscal year long and doesn’t have any plan of organizing a good number of team outings, employee morale-uplifting initiatives, or even something as simple as team breakfasts; lunches; or dinners.
Keep in mind that team outings or team building sessions are not just there for the heck of it or just so you could liquidate the budget that’s allotted for them. They are very important and useful means that give your employees a temporary break from all the pangs of work and enjoy the trappings of life and being in the company of one another. Not only that. It’s a good avenue in which people get together not just to enjoy but to work on their camaraderie and teamwork as well. Also, even in team outings, people can still talk about work while having all the fun in the world just for themselves. Can’t they? And, I believe, this is even a more productive and joyful team building. Matter of fact, an ideal team building activity or team outing is actually one that allocates a few hours for everyone to take a look back at what were accomplished and the progress that has been made at work and discuss how some past mistakes could be corrected, how people’s performance can be enhanced, how processes can be improved, and how work and personal relationships can be strengthened.
The only situation that I can think of in which this may not be practical is when the department or the company doesn’t really have the budget to stage one, and yes, it’s excusable.
One reminder though. Do not dwell in the misconception that one team building outing within a year is enough or that a few dates with your team would suffice just so you could claim you’ve been doing this. Over and above spending quality time and bonding with your people, it’s really another way of showing that you’re a human being who cares and not just a money-making robot or a yes-man to the top honchos of the company; a concerned person who always has the welfare of his people in mind. Also, team buildings are there at your disposal to address personal and team issues or any other values or traits that need to be improved or corrected among and in your people. This is because all team building activities offer post-conduct principles and food for thought that they can ponder on, digest, or bring back to their respective work.
- Actively involve your people in decision making especially those that they are allowed to make.
Most employees, especially the highly motivated and highly capable ones, leave their bosses and their company when they feel like they are merely doers or implementers of instructions and that they are not involved in discussions that also concern them, what they would do, and their future in the company.
I understand that this might be disputed by some supervisors who would come across this article and this is what I’m going to say to them. Yes, there are some decisions, confidential ones at that, that can only be made by let’s say, the management committee or those on the managerial level and that’s understandable although laughable. However, some supervisors don’t have to limit to just themselves decisions concerning what they want to happen in their respective departments or what they would like the people on their team to do and not do. They have to generate the buy-in of their subordinates too. Not all of them are a yes-man—a “yes Sir”-“yes Ma’am” type of person. There are those whose ideas they would like to be listened to and their suggestions they would need to be considered.
Some people resign when they feel like they are not being valued or they are just treated as rank-and-file employees who don’t have a say in anything or who don’t have anything useful, beneficial, creative, and smart to bring forth.
Why am I saying this? You have to understand, as a supervisor or a manager, that there are some people who may be as smart as you are if not smarter; who are as creative as you are if not much more ; and who have excellent ideas that just need to be acknowledged and applied. Hence, if you are just restricting the power to decide and to approve on things to yourself and anybody else who is in the same position as you are or anybody who has the word “officer”, “lead”, “supervisor”, or “manager” in their titles, most of your employees especially the highly-capable and highly-motivated ones would be upset and might start considering working somewhere else.
- Communicate organizational changes, company updates, people reorganization and even company challenges and woes to your subordinates; even to the rank-and-file employees right away. They have the right to know as they are also employees of the company. Don’t assume they can’t adapt unless guided or they might not understand.
Just to share, there are four kinds of employees in any organization nowadays. They are:
- Those who don’t perform well and don’t care at all;
- Those who don’t perform well but care a lot;
- Those who perform well but don’t care at all;
- Those who perform well and care a lot.
Yes, it’s fine if you don’t update those that are Type A and Type C. They wouldn’t make a big deal out of it anyways. They are those people who only go to work to earn so they could support themselves and their family and don’t give it a damn if they are kept in the loop or not. When you are faced with those that are Type B and Type D, on the other hand, you have to inform them or you have to entertain their questions in case they wonder. If you keep everything secret or if you filter what you tell them, they might think that there’s something wrong, you’re hiding something, or some paranoids might think the company or the department they are in is not doing well anymore or it’s going through a hard time that might even lead to them losing their jobs, the company closing down, or reporting itself bankrupt.
Register this in your head that your subordinates have the right to be informed and to be updated about what’s going on in the company and with their status. It’s because they are a member of the organization and they don’t deserve to be kept in the dark. Most people resign when they can’t see or appreciate their value in the company. They leave the moment they feel they’re just treated as “do this-do that” laborers and don’t have the right to contribute, help in the decision-making, or be heard no matter how big your company or department is.
Therefore, especially when you are dealing with the Type B and the Type D personnel, take the initiative to update them on everything you are permitted to disclose. They would appreciate it. You just have to make sure that you follow the ideal coaching or counseling process and start with setting expectations and laying down the objectives of the conversation before breaking updates to them gently and positively. It’s going to be much more of a problem when they find it out (especially those who are deeply concerned with their future or movement in the company) from somebody else or when they discover it themselves.
- Last but not least, have a workable and SMART career plan for each of your subordinates and not just those who are performing well or exceeding your expectations. Don’t discriminate when it comes to career growth. That’s what make people leave.
One of the yardsticks of an effective supervisor or manager is how many people they help get promoted or if not help get promoted, is how many times they are able to replicate how they think and work through the individuals on the team they are leading. Therefore, the more employees you help get up the corporate ladder, the better.
People tender their resignation when they realize they are not going anywhere with you or the department they are in. Also, they get disappointed when they notice that supervisors are choosing or prioritizing who they want or like to get promoted. You have to understand that you are not the only one who’s ambitious or who needs his monthly pay to increase. Your people would want to get promoted and their income augmented some more too.
It is correct that not all employees would want or need to get promoted. But, how about for those ambitious individuals who have been working really hard to earn their well-deserved promotions but just couldn’t get promoted no matter what they do because of all people who will discourage or not support them, their main antagonists are their own bosses themselves. Or, they may not be villainous but they play favoritism. It’s ironic. Isn’t it?
Ergo, make a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) career plan with all of your subordinates (and not just a select few) that details what the best promotional track for them is based on their strengths, accomplishments and characteristics. Make them realize that you have a career advancement plan for them and that you would help them climb up the organizational chart on the condition that they consistently exceed your expectations and impress the clients. Make them see that you are not only working for yourself and that your growth is their growth too in the sense that when you go up, they also go up with you. Finally, sit down with them and sincerely strategize about how you are gradually but surely going to direct them to the higher position they deserve and desire.
See to it that you do this to everyone no matter what their level of performance is. There are times that bottom performers return the favor or do something commendable that turns their performance around when they see that they have very supportive bosses who have their growth in the company in mind even if they haven’t been performing well or taking their jobs for granted. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. You have already helped them with their highly-coveted promotions and you have also given them a wake-up call communicating they should do something with their lives and careers.
Think about it.
These are just some of the best practices that I would like to share to help you address your people retention and employee attrition challenges and to evade the dangers of “brain drain” or “intellectuals’ loss”. Hopefully, with these being put to practice, you would be able to make more loyal, more committed, more dedicated, more motivated, and more satisfied employees in your team members and that they wouldn’t be admonished to turn in their resignation letters and look for greener pastures somewhere else; somewhere else that knows how to take good care of their employees better.
If you are interested in inviting the expert, Myron Sta. Ana (the Next Big Thing in Corporate, Communications, Leadership, Personal Branding and Excellence, and Motivational/Inspirational Training and Consultancy) in your school or organization to talk about this topic and a lot more, just email him @ Myron.S.Sta.Ana@hotmail.com / Myronosophies@hotmail.com or text/call him at 0927-351-9391 / 368-3214.