“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
~St. Francis of Assisi~
Client Sarah Asks: In this economy, money has to work very hard for us. We want to retain our best employees. How should we allocate our finances to maximize our retention?
Coach Joel Answers: That’s a great question, Sarah. Your company has a number of options—different ways to spend your money. To best motivate your workers to stay with you, you first need to understand them.
Not all workers respond the same way. Some of your options have tax consequences that might matter to your top talent. Others may perceive one or another of these choices as more prestigious or of greater value to them.
So your first step is to know your key players. Assess them. Find out what is most enticing and likely to keep them working for you.
Then choose from these four methods those that will work best for you, your employees, and your company.
1. Competitive salary. This is the first rabbit most businesses pull out of the bag. And for a very good reason. It is effective.A salary that pays market value means there’s no financial incentive for your worker to leave. They can’t expect a better offer elsewhere. And when you pay a little above average, workers may feel they are being paid extra for any small inconveniences that come with the job.
2. Bonuses. Sometimes companies need to see how their finances play out before they can reward their employees. They may give workers an average salary with the promise of a bonus if the company does well.
This has the added advantage of offering motivation. Each employee sees their salary more connected to the success of the company. They may make that extra effort to help the company succeed.
The benefit to you, Sarah, is that the company keeps its bottom line lower in difficult years, but can reward employees and keep retention up by promising bonuses in good years.
3. Fringe Benefits. Top talent may be motivated to stay with the company for certain perks. The choice corner office. Company car. Use of the company jet. Pizza Fridays. A nice company gym or offering child care.
Some fringe benefits offer prestige and status that is more enticing than money alone. Some may fill a compelling need of your workers.
Here is where you really need to know your employees. What kinds of fringe benefits connect with them? Is this something that makes financial sense to the company? Perhaps birthday recognitions are low cost, but highly satisfying to your workers. That leaves money on the table for other retention methods.
4. Stock options or company ownership. When employees are vested with company stock options or a chance to buy into the business you strengthen their commitment to their job. They are much less likely to leave.
You need to decide if this is a financially viable option for employee retention. Does it make sense in your business model?
Sarah, you are wise to consider the best uses of your company’s finances to increase worker retention. With the cost of hiring and retraining, it makes more sense to invest in keeping workers satisfied and happy. You gain the benefit of experienced workers. And happy employees are more productive.
To understand your worker’s motivations and develop a retention plan designed for success, contact Joel.
Talkback: What has your company done to retain employees? What has been most successful?
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“The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasures.”
~ Francoise Demotte Bille ~
Client Paul Asks: I’m tired of the same-old recognition presentations. I want my employees to know that I value them. I want to retain my top talent. But I want a fresh approach, a different way to recognize them.
Coach Joel Answers: You’re on the right track. Recently, when companies were asked if they thought employee aptitude or attitude was most critical for success, they chose attitude.
When you reward employees with interesting presentations, you will enhance workplace attitudes and keep your key people happy. But it doesn’t have to be boring. You can make those announcements of great performance fun and interesting.
Add a little humor, do something zany or off the wall to brighten things up. Or make it special or memorable.
- Place the commendation in the midst of a power point presentation. Imagine the impact on the room when a heart-felt commendation is presented, out-of-the blue in the middle of a meeting.
- Have fortune cookies made up with notes mentioning how great your employee or your team is. Then share them at a special presentation and see their faces light up.
- A personal, handwritten note, while not a public declaration, represents your time and indicates your appreciation in a way that is unmatched. Regular affirmations, even private ones, can make the recipient look forward to coming to work each day.
- Learn your employee’s favorite restaurant and give them a gift certificate for that place. Or perhaps tickets for their team’s event.
- Order a mug or T-shirt specially designed for the employee you want to recognize. Make the presentation and invite your worker to “dress down” and wear the T-shirt for the rest of the day. If it’s a mug, then fill it with his or her favorite coffee or tea.
- Throw a party for the honoree. Order in munchies, party hats or noise makers and let everyone know they are enjoying the break because of the great work of the employee you want to honor and retain.
- Award the top team with a lunch on you. Give them that freedom to eat and enjoy some down time as a way of saying “Thank you for a job well done.”
- Create a traveling “Good Job” trophy. It can sit on the desk of the employee you want to recognize for a week or two until the next worker is presented with the trophy.
- Make a giant card. Put it on an easel and have everyone write one thing they appreciate about your star employee.
- Construct a large sign with appropriate wording to honor your key player. It might be something that could hang outside his or her office for a period of time. It could be serious, wacky, or funny, depending on your office culture.
Paul, employees always appreciate a financial reward for hard work, but a creative presentation can make your workers feel valued. It will make the office more interesting and interactive. And when your staff is having fun and knowing they are appreciated, they will want to stay with you.
If you’re looking for unusual or interesting employee retention presentations, contact Joel. He’ll help you improve the attitudes of your staff.
Talkback: What out-of-the-box presentations have you given to reward your employees?
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“If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings—and put compensation as a carrier behind it—you almost don’t have to manage them.”
Client Mindy Asks: Our tech company is growing and expanding. We’ve hired some managers in the past, and it hasn’t worked out the way we expected it to. How can we recruit and retain the kind of managerial talent that stays with us and produces the results we’re looking for?
Coach Joel Answers: Mindy, you’ve hit on two key points. When you recruit well, the second one—retention—becomes much easier. So let’s focus first on effective recruitment.
1. Determine your needs. First, it’s absolutely critical you have a thorough understanding of what you expect from your manager. You need to know not only the duties he or she will perform, but the intangibles—emotional intelligence. Even if your new hire comes with great technical skills, if they don’t have people skills, vision, and motivation, it will be difficult for them to manage.
So look at your corporate climate. What social, communication, and team building skills do they need as well? Enthusiasm and motivation can go a long way to ensure the success of the new manager.
2. Advertise broadly. Your ideal manager may be working within your company. Or they may be working for your competitor. Make sure your open position is made known to a wide range of prospects. Can it be filled by someone just out of college? Is the market so tight you need to look to pull someone out of retirement? Don’t lose your best talent by limiting your scope.
3. Sell yourself. What does your company offer to attract the kind of managers you want to hire? In order for this new hire to work out, you need to be transparent in the kind of company you are. A mismatch results in your managers not hanging around long.
What is there in your brand that will resonate with the recruit? Are you eco-friendly? Consensus building? Highlight your cross training or the value your company places on its employees.
4. Show them it’s true. What is there in your recruitment process that illustrates the strengths of the company you’re selling to your new hires? If you tell them your company values employees, will your prospects find a helpful HR office? Will they find your online presence reflects your promises to them? Is the application process easy and straightforward, or convoluted and full of hoops to jump through?
5. Offer sufficient training. Once you have your new managers in place you want to keep them. Keep them happy. Keep them fulfilled. Keep them engaged in and with your company.
One way to ensure you retain your managers is by ensuring they have a full range of training to orient them properly. Have a mentor to help them understand the company culture. Offer frequent feedback where your manager can feel confident he or she is on the right track and he or she feels free to ask questions. Work together to create realistic milestones for integration and achievement.
Recruiting and maintaining managerial talent are closely linked together. When you know how to attract your ideal hire, you increase the probability you will keep your manager for a long time. However it’s important to continue training, support, and open communication on an ongoing basis.
Are you looking for ways your company can recruit and keep excellent managers? Contact Joel for insights you might be missing.
Talkback: What has been one of the most important factors you’ve seen as you recruit and retain your top talent?
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“I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work, and be proud that I tried everything.”
Client Tony Asks: In today’s environment, it seems so many careers get derailed. Things start out promising, then bam! You’re taking a nose dive. What can I do to accelerate my career smoothly—without interruptions?
Coach Joel Answers: We live in a roller-coaster society with booms and busts. But there are ways to safeguard your career and make it much more likely you can keep it accelerating on an upward trend.
Take a look at these seven critical areas of business expertise. As you increase your skills in these areas, you become more valuable to your employer—or any employer.
These skills can super-charge your career to ensure you give more and more value, and in turn, are appropriately compensated.
1. Become an Expert. Look at the work you currently do—or what you want to do. Find ways to become more skilled and more effective in this field. Research, implement, get mentored. Do what you need to do increase your expertise until you become the person everyone naturally turns to for answers.
2. Communicate Well. Businesses run on clear communication. Mistakes and mis-communication can sink careers. So to keep yours moving forward successfully, master good communication skills. Choose methods that work best for you—in person, email, text, reports. Ask for responses so you can be sure your messages have gotten through as you intended.
3. Invite Feedback. You need to know the quality of your work. When you ask for feedback you can be assured you’re working to the expectations of your boss and others. When you invite frequent assessments, you can stop potential problem in the beginning.
4. Align Your Vision. Make sure you are focusing on what your boss or the company sees as most important. It’s terribly frustrating to work hard and produce excellent results—only to discover what you’re doing isn’t part of the core competencies of the company. It isn’t valued as you expected.
5. Team Work. Every job is part of a team effort to create the products of the business. Your ego needs to be neither too big nor too small to work effectively as a team member. Support others. Give credit. Be generous. People enjoy being around and want to work with those who are likeable and produce results.
6. Ensure Ethics. When you compromise your integrity you run a deep risk of placing your career in recession. Choose a company that matches your ethics. Then monitor your actions to make sure they fit that standard. One of the most important reasons people give for their decision making is trust. Ensure you are trustworthy.
7. Customer Service. Even if you are not dealing with the public, you can give great customer service to those around you. Make sure you are giving good value for what you are earning. Think of the management and your peers as your customers and serve them appropriately.
Stephen R. Covey says leadership is not a position, it’s an action. Regardless of your position in a company, you can practice leadership skills. You can make yourself responsible, forward thinking, and you can empower others.
As you do this, you accelerate your career—without any interruption or slow-down—and you reach the goals that define your success.
If your career is not on the upward path you’d envisioned for yourself, contact Joel for the strategy and skills necessary to accomplish your dreams.
Talkback: What steps have you taken to move your career off a plateau? Is there a particular trait or event that boosted your career?
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“Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
Client Ron asks: Our company has got to get serious about a planning program for succession. We talk about it all the time, but only in some kind of informal, conversational way. “Oh, Janet would be a great comptroller if we could get her into a couple of training programs.” But there’s nothing in writing and no formal plan with benchmarks and milestones. I’m going to take on this challenge personally. But how do I even get started?
Coach Joel answers: Unfortunately, many companies never even think about a succession planning program until they are faced with some kind of crisis or emergency. Someone becomes ill or gets recruited by a competitor and suddenly there’s a huge hole in the organization chart and no one is available to fill it. You’re smart to shed some daylight on this issue. Here are three action steps I think you should take as soon as possible to tackle succession planning in your organization:
- Create individual development plans
- Start an internship program
- Train high potentials with job rotation
1. Create individual development plans. Virtually every employee in your company should have a written career plan. This plan should include his or her core competencies, career goals, and what training programs are needed in order to get him from where he is now to where he wants to go. Be sure to include a time frame for each development activity. Work with each person one on one, and let them develop their own plan with your guidance, rather than developing the plan yourself and dictating to them what’s to be done. Be sure they know the plan can be modified if situations or goals change.
2. Start an internship program. An internship program is an important component of succession program planning. I’m talking here about a special kind of internship, a formal growth structure for employees on the move, not an unpaid summer job for high school or college students. Let’s say, for example, that Kate, who is currently an IT supervisor, has expressed an interest in learning more about marketing. Kate can begin to spend a small percentage of her time in marketing, doing real work, such as a special project or a real problem solve. Kate should have a mentor who will support and critique her. At the same time she should be given opportunities to interact with senior marketing staff during meetings and trainings. Socializing with marketing staff outside the workplace would also help her feel comfortable and become more visible.
3. Train high potentials with job rotation. Job rotations are designed to give rising stars wide exposure to the big company picture by experiencing all phases of the company’s business. Don’t confuse job rotation with cross training, which usually takes place among employees within a department rather than throughout the company. As an important piece of your succession planning, you’ll want to set this up so that each program participant spends time assuming duties and getting hands-on experience in every department. For example, let’s say you’ve targeted Jeffrey as a potential future CFO. As a final phase in his growth plan, he might spend an entire year devoting 25% or more of his time to projects in HR, marketing, and production. Think of job rotation as an investment in leadership development that will ensure that promising young employees gain the experience they need to understand all aspects of the business.
When you set up this kind of structure, you’re doing two things. First, you’re letting your future leaders know you have confidence in them. You’re giving them an opportunity to chart their own course to a successful future. At the same time, you’re giving them a huge responsibility to rise to the occasion by devoting hard work and commitment to their own futures. Most, if not all, will rise to the occasion and you’ll sleep better at night, knowing that your company has the right people in place who can step up to the plate when the occasion demands it.
How’s your succession plan looking? Email Joel today for some ideas you can use to whip it into shape.
Talkback: Do you have some succession planning tools that are working for you? Share your successes here.
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