Myronosophy #10 Part II

For Managers/Supervisors: How Keeping Things To Yourself, Lack of Trust and Not Delegating Well Trigger Employee Resignation and Animosity (CONTINUED)

A week ago, we had talked about the adverse effects of managers/supervisors keeping important organizational updates (good or bad) and management decisions to themselves and what can be done to cascade them effectively and properly without getting negative feedback or unpleasant reactions from subordinates in return.

On our article for today, we will discuss the several reasons why some managers/supervisors hesitate to delegate or don’t delegate at all, how managers’/supervisors’ lack of trust or inability to delegate lead to employees severing their ties with their company or gettting at odds with the people they report to, and different action steps that can be taken to maximize the effectiveness of delegation and improving supervisor-to-subordinate relationships.

First off, the preliminary question that we have to answer here is “Why don’t some managers/supervisors trust their subordinates enough to be convinced to delegate tasks to them?
The answers to this question are simple.  They could be any or all of the following:

1.  They are more comfortable working on critical tasks on their own because they are afraid their subordinates might commit a mistake and they might be blamed by their superiors for the botched work;

2.  They assume their subordinates are not as competent or equipped as they are or they are not even competent or equipped at all;

3.  They don’t entirely trust or give their subordinates the benefit of the doubt;

4.  Their subordinates are not managers/supervisors yet.  Therefore, they might not be ready for or capable of taking on a leadership task;

5.  They lack the leadership skills to be able to delegate tasks well and with purpose;

6.  Or worse, they have no idea how to delegate at all.

These could already be all of the explanations as to why delegation appears to be a difficult thing for them to do or trust is something that they hold themselves back from giving.  Nonetheless, although they might have their own justifiable reasons as to why they’re not delegating or trusting on a person or case-to-case basis, it is very helpful and important that they know what the negative repercussions are that might result from these behaviors.  This way, they would acknowledge how important delegating and trusting are and they would make an honest effort to change their working, leadership and communication styles and do something.

At this point, let me enumerate the likely negative outcomes of lack of trust and failure to delegate tasks especially for the purpose of developing people or guiding them on their way up the ranks.

1.  THEY MIGHT LOSE IT (NOT THEIR HEADS BUT THEIR MOTIVATION)

1.  There are four different employees out there that we have to consider and let us take a look at what their reaction to or in terms of their supervisors’ lack of trust and failure to share a part of what they do at their level.  Those different types are below and their corresponding responses:

     A.  Deserving but Not Interested

RESPONSE:  They might not give a damn for as long as they are recognized for the excellent work and the dedication that they are showing and they are getting paid what is due to them.  So, would there be a problem dealing with these people with regard to this?  No, not really.  However, they might still have sentiments of their own that they just prefer to keep to themselves.  Therefore, their level of motivation might still be affected even for just a bit.

     B.  Undeserving but Interested

RESPONSE:  Whether they deserve to be entrusted a sensitive company information and leadership obligation or not but if they are yearning for being able to have a first-hand experience of practicing a leadership task or leading people, they are still going to be affected badly by lack of trust or delegation.  They are those who might not be as knowledgeable or skillful as their better-performing colleagues but still have ambitions to move up in ranks themselves.  They might not serve their boss well anymore or might just sulk in one corner as a quiet protest to the obvious lack of leadership and rapport from the people that they expect to guide and support them.

     C.  Undeserving and Not Interested

RESPONSE:  Managers/supervisors might be lucky if they just have subordinates like this who, just like the “deserving but not interested” ones, will not make anything at all a big deal.  But, this does not happen in the real world.  They should expect to have different people who have different personalities, expectations, intentions, and tendencies in the company.  In fact, they might appear like they are both undeserving and not interested but they might also have a negative thing to say of their bosses.

D.  Deserving and Interested

RESPONSE:  When you have people like this, the more that you should delegate to them and that you keep them abreast of what is going on in the company especially when it concerns their performance and future.  These employees are high potentials of becoming great leaders and contributors of the company.  They are also those that are tremendously skillful and already know as much as or even more than their predecessors and superiors.  Ergo, they already become too demanding and highly eager to try their hands at doing what their supervisors/managers do and being trained to follow in their footsteps. So, come to think of it, if the level of their knowledge and skills; their readiness to lead; and their demand to be kept in the loop and to be involved in the decision-making process are not being acknowledged and taken into account, their motivational status is surely going to be undermined and they might eventually lose focus and interest.  This, more often than not, leads to resignation.

So, with this in mind, it becomes more important and at times, imperative to not keep them in the dark about not just what they like to know but what they need and should be aware of as well.  Also, since there are varied kinds of employees just like above, it is very helpful to ascertain what type of an employee they are.  This way, you know the level or degree of their need or demand to be informed and to be delegated leadership responsibilities to and you recognize their presence and vital role in the company.

2.  EMPLOYEES (ESPECIALLY THE DESERVING AND INTERESTED) WHO FEEL DISRESPECTED, BELITTLED, OUT OF PLACE AND TAKEN FOR GRANTED SOUR ON THEIR BOSSES OR WORSE, BACKLASH AGAINST THEM

One of the employee tendencies that managers/supervisors should not let develop among their people is disengagement.  Once their subordinates become disengaged, the supervisor-to-subordinate relationship gets messed up and the management or the immediate supervisor should immediately exhaust all means to turn everything around, to pacify them, to convince them to stay and continue trusting them and the company.

In my six years of looking around and observing people, I have met and seen subordinates (especially those who are classified as ‘deserving and interested and ‘undeserving and interested’) who lost their drive for work, who ended up showing animosity towards their supervisors, and who stop looking up to them as reliable people they can entrust their professional development to.

Most of the time, they already show indifference in meetings and towards company events and even turn out to be debating with their supervisors about a lot of things frequently.  Consequently, this often leads to shouting at each other and not talking to each other anymore thereafter.

Moreover, below are the different predispositions that you do not want to be seeing manifest among your subordinates

DISRESPECTED – They tend to feel disrespected especially when they believe they should be informed about organizational updates and other related information and that at their current level or number of achievements, they are all set to be trying out leadership/management tasks as part of their development plan.

BELITTLED – High potential employees do not appreciate being belittled.  Not because they are not managers or supervisors yet that it is okay for managers/supervisors not to keep them in the loop and involved actively.

OUT OF PLACE  – There comes a point when an employee reaches the limit of his personal tolerance and just opts to tender his resignation and look for a better job with a better environment and career growth opportunity somewhere else.  When they feel they are not getting anywhere in the company and they are like being ostracized just because they are not on the managerial/supervisory level yet, their motivation slowly dies and their longing to perform and contribute just goes down the drain.

TAKEN FOR GRANTED – Managers/Supervisors are not the only ones who might feel put aside. Subordinates also get to a point when they feel they are only treated or seen as they are, that is, “subordinates” or “staff” or “non-managers/non-supervisors”.  Therefore, they feel taken for granted as though they are unable to put something on the table that may be as good or even better than what a manager/supervisor can give.

“I’m sorry. For now, this information should be kept on our level”,

“You’ll know when it happens but for now, we opt not to share it with you yet”,

“You will experience this when you become a manager or a supervisor yourself.  But for now, concentrate on your main duties and responsibilities instead”

“This work that I am doing is critical and I, as your boss, am the only one who can do it that I can’t share it with you”.

Do the aforementioned look and sound familiar?  Yes, they are.  They are just a few of the common spiels of those managers/supervisors who underestimate the wonders of letting their employees know about both positive and negative developments transpiring in the company and decisions made by the higher-ups and of assigning leadership duties for the purpose of developing them for promotional chances.  These are the same lines, furthermore, that take the motivation and the drive away from them when they feel they are being underestimated and as it is, “taken for granted”.

There you have it.  These are the possible repercussions that are brought about by supervisors’/managers’ lack of trust and denial of subordinates’ need to be informed, involved, and exposed.  If these are circumstances that are the last that you want to see, then value keeping them in the loop and delegating a portion of what you do at your level as effective management strategies to make people happy, satisfied and more productive.

The last question that needs to be answered here, at this point, is “With all of these in mind, what should/can managers do to encourage their people to get back on the track in terms of their motivation, passion and drive in work?”

DELEGATION:

In order to maximize the effectiveness of delegation, let us revisit the different types of employees discussed prior.  Let us find out how to delegate even to those who do not have the interest to be delegated any task, whatsoever, to.

A.  Deserving but Not Interested

For people like this, there is still something that can be delegated to them despite their lack of interest in being given additional responsibilities to.  Supervisors can just have those who are struggling with their performances consult these people or ask them questions about how to do their job.  Since they are the most knowledgeable and skillful on the team, even if they are now interested in being given additional tasks, they can still serve as the think tank of the team or the company without being required to do something on top of their current job description.

     B.  Undeserving but Interested

These ones may lagging behind the others on the team in terms of performance but on the other hand, they are teeming with a lot of interest in being given additional responsibilities.  Since that is the case, supervisors can take good advantage of that high interest.  They may not be ready for being delegated leadership/management tasks yet but it does not mean nothing can be delegated to them at all.  Try out the next best thing for them and make sure to set expectations.  They can just function as the supervisor’s assistant or secretary in a lot of things.  They can take minutes during meetings and send those minutes to everyone on the team thru email or some other means afterwards.  They can also run errands for as long as they are not being made or forced to do dirty jobs which are not work-related or which they are not going to get anything out of.  But of course, as supervisors, have them do these things to keep their interest alive, but they should not forget they need to improve their knowledge and skills as well so coaching and counseling may be done simultaneously.

     C.  Undeserving and Not Interested

These people may not  be interested to move up or be given additional responsibilities or they may not be that knowledgeable or skillful.  Nonetheless, what can just be delegated to them would be tasks that will help them understand things better and pull up their metrics.  Also, if they are not interested, it works most of the time when they are consulted about what gets their interest and attention and what kinds of things they would prefer to do instead, if not supervisory tasks and for as long as they are work-related.  Also, in helping them become diligent in what they do, supervisors may need to give them an extra shove and better yet, they may need to put their foot down and remind them about how they are going to be negatively affected by their own passivity and inaction.

D.  Deserving and Interested

As already explained, when you have these kinds of employees on your team, the more that you should take the initiative to delegate tasks to them especially supervisory roles.  They are ready.  They can be promoted anytime as soon as the opportunity presents itself.  At some point, they already be more knowledgeable and better than their supervisors are.  They may already speak, think, act and decide like they do.  They are already supervisors/managers in their own rights even without the titles or the official designation.  Hence, let it be part of their development or performance improvement plan for them to experience to lead, coach, counsel, assign tasks to, motivate, inspire, and discipline people on your team even if they are they are their own colleagues or peers.

So, above are the effective means that any supervisor/manager can employ to delegate responsibilities to employees of different types, needs, and preferences.  This way, they are able to foil any likely consequence of them losing their motivation, feeling disrespected, belittled, out of place or taken for granted.

OPEN COMMUNICATION:

Last but not least, keep everyone on the team and the organization informed and involved.  On the first part of this two-part write-up, we talked about why keeping our employees, regardless if the news is positive or negative, in the loop is important and rather beneficial and what non-communication often leads to not-so-good things.

Remember, the more informed; involved and exposed our employees are, the better that they perform in their respective functions.

Therefore, in closing, let us value our people.  Even though they are not supervisors and managers yet, they are the ones who bring in the results and the revenues for the company because they are the ones who execute or put into action whatever decision we arrive at.  Ergo, they have the right to be informed and they also have the right to experience what you are benefiting from as a leader and being trusted matters that do not only matter to them as they directly concern their performance and growth in the company, but they simply have to know as an indispensable part of the company.

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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 @ Myronosophies@hotmail.com / myron.s.sta.ana@hotmail.com or text/call him at 0927-351-9391 / 368-3214.  Right now, he is still connected with Hinduja Global Solutions as its Corporate Trainer so he is only available during the weekend, Saturday and Sunday.  However, if your affair can only be scheduled during weekdays, just advise him a month before (2-3 weeks in advance at least) so he can make arrangements and can prepare accordingly. :)

Myronosophy #10 Part I

For Managers/Supervisors: How Keeping Things To Yourself, Lack of Trust and Not Delegating Well Trigger Employee Resignation and Animosity

In my six years of training and observing people in the corporate world, there have only been very few managers/supervisors that know how to lead their people well and maximize their presence on their teams effectively.  There are also so few of them who acknowledge the importance of delegating even some of what they do (leadership responsibilities) for the purpose of developing their people and helping them go up the corporate ladder the same way that they were assisted by their supervisors when they were still one of the ‘rank and file’.

In this Myronosophy, we will talk about three of the major shortcomings or misplays most managers/supervisors commit nowadays which, at worst, lead to people resigning, antagonizing them or losing their drive for work.

KEEPING MANAGEMENT DECISIONS ON YOUR LEVEL OR ORGANIZATIONAL UPDATES (POSITIVE OR NOT) TO YOURSELVES:

If you are a manager, supervisor, director, vice president, or president who is reading this article; what are your answers to the following questions or sample situations below?

1.  When your company is struggling financially, should you not let your employees know that the organization is not meeting its financial targets that some of its repercussions might take their toll on their merit increases and the amount of some of their expected bonuses being reduced significantly or worse being forfeited?

2.  In the same vein as above, should you just notify your employees that their merit increases will not be how they used to be or what they used to be getting a few days before the actual crediting of this pay?

3.  When there are management decisions or updates that directly concern your employees, their performance or their job security in your company but are assumed might be taken negatively or not understood wholly, should you not communicate them anymore and just keep them within your ranks just because of the assumption they might not be open-minded enough to understand, accept and live with them?

4.  Should you not give them a heads-up or better yet, fill them in about the results of your meetings with the higher-ups (top level managers, directors, vice-presidents, or presidents) just because they are not supervisors or managers yet?

I’m not going to put words into your mouth but your answers to these questions define the kind of manager that you are and how much importance you give to keeping your staff, no matter what level they are on, in the loop regarding pertinent and critical events that are happening inside and outside of your organization.

You see, most decision-makers hesitate to share with their staff members, assistants, specialists or officers similar decisions and updates like the ones stated above for fear of the following:

a.  They might not understand (for their presumed lack of open-mindedness) the problem or challenges the company is going thru;

b.  They might not accept (due to their practicality or selfishness) how they are going to be affected not only by the problems that have to solved but the organization’s decisions that aim to adapt to the changes or counter/subdue the challenges;

c.  They might not appreciate what the company is prepared to do (they might be hard to please) despite the difficulties it is in or that in spite of such obstacles, they would be able to serve something on a silver platter that they would be able to appreciate, at least.

d.  They merely think such decisions or updates should not be relayed to or shared with anybody else but them because those people are not supervisors or managers yet.  In other words, they have to get promoted first before they are able to relish the prerogative of being someone on your rank.

Well, the aforementioned are merely assumptions until they are proven true.  Even when majority of your subordinates end up not really understanding, accepting, appreciating and respecting your decisions for the betterment and survival of the company after everything has been said and done; it is still better and more mutually-beneficial if you would not have second thoughts about letting them know of the management team’s/owners’ decisions as soon as you can so they know what’s going on and would be able to play a role in helping the company turn things around.

Since the major worries or concerns here are that they might not understand, accept, appreciate and respect; then why don’t we concentrate our orchestrated efforts in making them feel these things?  Right?

Ergo, I introduce you to my U-2A-R principle, which is in short for Make them Understand, Accept, Appreciate and Respect the Business Environment:

MAKE THEM UNDERSTAND:

Seriously, all it takes are effective; prompt communication and positive scripting.  These are the factors that will play a vital role in making them understand the situation, what the company has to do, and how they are going to be affected by the decisions they will make.

But of course, it starts with the owners and the management team carefully and intelligently choosing who their messengers are going to be.  They can’t jut entrust the responsibility of communicating what has to be and knowing how to communicate them positively, properly, and thoroughly to anybody.  This is very crucial.  The decision-makers have to see to it that those who would deliver the message have the good and proven reputation in explaining things without rubbing people the wrong way or making things worse.  Now, just in case the limited time available or how the company’s communication lines are structured does not permit choosing who these people are, they should at least schedule an orientation for supervisors, officers, team leaders and the like.  This series of orientation or training should intend to let them know what has or have to be communicated and how these pieces of information must be relayed in a manner that’s positive, non-condescending, less demanding, and respectful.

Lastly, these orientations have to be held within a significant period of time before the target date of cascading the news or the instructions from the top.  The goal here is to notify employees the soonest time possible so they will not be caught by surprise or off-guard.  They have to be offered a span of time within which they can have all the time to absorb everything, realize the good in the bad, and think of ways on how they can help the company keep its head above the water and remain attractive and competitive in the industry it is in.

MAKE THEM ACCEPT:

This is one tough responsibility to execute and of which message a tricky one to send across. How are you going to make them accept something which they go against or that they don’t like?

Try this out.  After breaking the news gently, turn it over to them and let them speak thereon.  Listen to their standpoint regarding the situation and acknowledge it.  Of course, make sure nothing goes off the record.  Instead of countering their opposing views regarding the situation and the organization’s action steps, have them raise their concerns and think of ways on how you can bring them to the management’s attention so they can be addressed immediately.  When employees witness and sense that you are not just acknowledging what they’re opining about for the heck of it but you are also committing to something that will not dismiss what they have in mind, they put their trust in you.  In addition to that, their confidence in you and the institution grows much stronger and they are left assured you are doing something.

Also, put into writing and commit to memory their personal prescriptions about what they and the company can do to solve problems and make itself more profitable. Afterwards, carry out those which can be done right away with, of course, a go-signal from the big guns of the company and try to discuss those which may take time to pan out with the same people for their scrutiny and consent.  In the process, however, make sure to touch base with the people that you promised to get back to in order to provide updates about the recommendations that they have shared and what the management thinks of them.

History proves, time and time again, how effective this is.  Understand that when people can clearly see and no doubt feel that they are involved in decision-making despite not being supervisors/managers and that they are not just being made ‘soldiers who are left to die in the battle’ (so to speak), accepting a situation is something that is not difficult to do for them.

MAKE THEM APPRECIATE

The keys here are socializing, positive scripting and elucidating WIIFM.

Socialize

Believe me.  For as long as people see and feel, notwithstanding the company’s financial and operational woes, that they are valued; that their contributions are being recognized; that they are being considered as treasured part and parcel of the organization, and that the company is doing all that it can to keep them happy (if not satisfied), they will stay and they will always understand.  Therefore, talk to them often and make them feel comfortable despite what’s going on thru frequent focus group and round table discussions.  This way, we would be able to listen to their take regarding matters and how they are feeling in the midst of the challenges around them.  If these are not possible, we can always utilize survey administration as another workable option.  Who knows? In such avenues, they might be able to bring up viable suggestions to help the company address concerns that not even the Management Committee would be able to think of.  Next, take recourse to staging employee engagement activities which can cushion the impact of whatever the company’s struggles are or stringent new policies, rules and regulations that have to be enforced.  These events are not really purported to divert their attention from the issues at hand or to make them preoccupied with something else while the challenges are existing.  This is absolutely a twisted idea of what employee engagement activities are for.  Instead, they are there to make them relaxed or empowered despite what they have to go through and to let them know that they are still the company’s priority no matter what.  With these initiatives in place, their motivations and aspirations are kept intact and they won’t take refuge in other companies which might offer them a friendlier and a more recognizing environment.

Explain things positively

What does this mean exactly?  Does this mean you have to sugarcoat things just so as to hide the unpleasant things and to make it sound to them that things are still A-OK and that there’s nothing they have to worry about? Definitely not.  To explain things positively does not always mean to give them the runaround but rather to explain things in such a way that will not annoy them or make them want to leave and look for a better job outside.  ‘Positivizing’ encourages us to think first before uttering any word.  It is thinking of the right words to wrap up the not-so-good news with.  Don’t get me wrong.  This is certainly different from sugar-coating in such a way that they know it’s bad news and that you don’t have to hide it.  It’s just that the way you communicate it lessens the damage that it could have caused had you not explained it positively and carefully.

For example:

Instead of saying “the company is not meeting its financial targets”, why don’t you say “the company is coming short of its financial expectations/targets”?.  They’re one and the same, yes.  But psychologically, when employees hear words like “no”, and “not”; they tend to react negatively or fail to see into things correctly.  So, let’s refrain from saying these words.

Another example is:

Instead of saying “you will not be getting as much as what you used to get with your merit bonus because the company is not doing well monetarily”, a much better way of saying it is “your merit bonus is going to be adjusted by decreasing its value as compared to the usual amount you’re getting to align it with the financial standing of the company”.  When it’s said this way, they would immediately get that, as their personal contribution, they have to cope with the financial status of the company and one of the ways to do it is a fraction of their merit bonus must be pared down to be in parallel with the company’s financial status or to save on non-value/profit adding costs.

Just to reiterate, being skillful with positive scripting helps them accept the situation without feeling disadvantaged or feeling that they are being made to suffer from the consequences of the company not doing well on its operations side.

Tune in to WII FM. 

This is the best radio station to patronize and listen to in times of company difficulties.  Well, kidding aside, WII FM is not really an FM radio station.  It’s actually an abbreviation for “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”.  Hence, what’s in it for “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”?

To make your employees appreciate that they still have their jobs and that they are still earning despite the company’s struggles and changes that they are not satisfied with, you may also have to explain what’s in the situation that they would actually benefit from, regardless.  Which is why, prior to talking to them and letting them know of the recent happenings in the organization, you need to research about or consult the bosses for the good things that somehow lie within the status quo that you can explain to them.  On top of they still have their jobs and that they are retaining their monthly salaries, it would help if you will also discuss the accompanying benefits like the following (examples only):

1.  Once the company gets past the financial obstacle and able to exceed its succeeding financial goals, that it is going to look into adding more benefits, enhancing the compensations package, or jacking up the merit pay;

2.  Once the company survives and is able to attract more prospective clients, that opportunities for promotions would come up and the company is going to scout for more people it would provide jobs to.

“What’s in it for me?” is all about making your employees realize and appreciate that despite what’s going on, holding on to their jobs; identifying with the company’s situation and striving harder in their respective duties in the meantime would actually prove to work to their advantage in the long run or as soon as the smoke is clear.

MAKE THEM RESPECT

This is actually the easiest thing to do when communicating not-so-good organizational updates to employees.  Because once they understand, accept and appreciate; respecting the business environment and what the people at the top are doing for them comes or follows automatically.  However, this won’t and can’t be fortified by just lip service by the superiors or lack of commitment coming from those below.  Let’s remember that they couldn’t and wouldn’t respect any decision or even the decision makers if the latter won’t generate their buy-in and if their important roles won’t be taken into account and rewarded.

Making them respect the company’s decisions and decision-makers equates to giving something in return for their acceptance, understanding and appreciation.  It may not always be monetary or materialistic. Even if it’s money or freebies, they don’t have to be given out immediately.  Something as simple as a small program awarding them for their performance, dedication, and loyalty or celebrating a bountiful food treat works.  The primary goal here is not really to mask or sandwich the true situation with things like these but rather to use these as media to let them know their presence in the company is as important as earning the company’s revenues.

Count on me on this, it all boils down to making them feel they’re in good hands and they’re with the best company there is.  If you succeed in this, they would be more considerate.

Now you know that as a concerned leader/manager, you don’t have to keep to yourselves matters that before, you thought should just stay within you or on your level.  There’s no harm in keeping your people abreast of what’s going on.  They have to right to know and to be exposed and involved because just like you, they are also a very precious asset of the company.   Getting of scared of situations like they might not understand, accept, appreciate or respect is now rendered unjustifiable.  If that’s the source of our worries, then put our focus on making them do such using the suggestions stated above.

I’m telling you know.  Not only that you would discourage voluntary attrition, you would also make your people much happier and more satisfied.

Tomorrow, we will talk about how supervisors/managers’ lack of trust of their people and not delegating leadership tasks bounce back as more serious hardships that effect resignations and employee dissatisfaction

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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 @ Myronosophies@hotmail.com / myron.s.sta.ana@hotmail.com or text/call him at 0927-351-9391 / 368-3214.  Right now, he is still connected with Hinduja Global Solutions as its Corporate Trainer so he is only available during the weekend, Saturday and Sunday.  However, if your affair can only be scheduled during weekdays, just advise him a month before (2-3 weeks in advance at least) so he can make arrangements and can prepare accordingly. 🙂

What Present Day Managers Should Do so Highly-Capable Employees Don’t Leave their Company

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:

  1. Those who don’t perform well and don’t care at all;
  2. Those who don’t perform well but care a lot;
  3. Those who perform well but don’t care at all;
  4. 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.

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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.