“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”
~ Bob Nelson~
Client Joan Asks: We’ve been really struggling with an employee retention problem. I’d like to help my managers determine where the problem may lie and come up with some solutions we can implement to keep our employees productive and happy.
Do you have some articles I could recommend to them that would help?
Coach Joel Answers: I like the direction you are going, Joan. If you allow your managers to read up on the way other people have resolved this problem, you get some buy in.
Then when they come to the table to discuss their ideas and solutions, you already have them taking ownership of the problem. They will be more interested in working toward a solution.
Here are six articles that will get you started.
1. How Managers Can Improve Their Workplaces for Employees. Joan, the fact is, most employees leave because of their boss and the management. The great thing about the suggestions in this article is that you don’t need to bust your budget to accomplish these strategies.
You’ll find seven simple steps you and your managers can take immediately to help retain more employees. Read Employee Retention Article.
2. Ten Ways to Keep Your Star Employees. Anytime you have top talent, you want to have them happy and secure with you. One of the issues that surfaces with rising stars is they will not stay if they don’t feel they are doing fulfilling work. Also, if they feel they are totally inundated with work they may become discouraged. Read Star Employees Article.
3. Highly Engaged Workplace. Sometimes you find workers just “biding their time” at their job. They don’t feel committed to the work. They stick it out because of the down economy, but don’t feel any loyalty to your company. This article helps you identify the key things that bring your employees fulfillment.
When you find those benefits and work situation that engages your workers, you change them from “waiting to leave,” to “wanting to stay.” It changes the entire workplace environment. Read Engaged Workplace Article.
4. How Men and Women in Leadership Can Help Employees Succeed. When employees are properly trained and feel they are using their skill sets to succeed, they enjoy their jobs more.
Use this article to examine the training opportunities you have in place. Do your workers need tutoring, mentoring, coaching or on-the-job training to feel more valuable? Are your employees confused about expectations and how you define success? This article will help you evaluate your workers better. Read Help Employees Succeed Article.
5. Give Employees What They Need. Sometimes as you evaluate your employee retention issue, you may discover that you have not given your staff the tools they need to succeed.
When workers stand on uncertain ground, they seek the security of another job. With this article you’ll find six tips to strengthen your employees’ commitment to succeed at your job instead of looking elsewhere. Read Keep Employees Motivated Article.
6. Learn How to Create a Happy Workplace with an Employee Retention Survey. What’s the best way to determine whether your employees are happy or unhappy and why? Ask them! This articles explains the importance of surveying current employees and provides examples of questions to include on your survey. Read the Employee Survey Article.
Joan, as your managers look at these employee retention articles, they will see where they can strengthen the workplace and their management skills. When employees enjoy their job, their manager, their work environment, and their pay you will find your retention problem disappears.
Looking for the solutions to your employee retention issues? Email Joel for options specifically designed for your situation.
Talkback: What articles have you read lately that could help managers keep their workers satisfied?
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“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.”
~Bill Gates ~
Client Ann Asks: I worry that we are not standing out from the competition. My IT Director says that we can gain a competitive advantage through information technology, but I’m not sure how to do this. Can you give me some ideas?
Coach Joel Answers: Ann, you are right on target. It’s vital that your company outshine other similar companies in order to maintain market share. You need things that help you work smarter, faster, and at a cheaper cost. Information technology can help you do all of that.
Let’s look at nine ways to improve your bottom line, support the team effort, handle paperwork, and gain more loyal customers.
When you employ some of these IT systems, you’ll feel more in control, you’ll save time, and you’ll see results.
1. Web Presence. Help your business be easily found. Make your website inviting, informative, and easy to navigate. You’ll find you’re converting visitors to buyers faster and more often.
2. E-commerce. Expand beyond your brick-and-mortar store. A.J. Madison started as a simple store in Brooklyn New York, selling to locals. Its expansive e- commerce site now has it sending appliances into all 50 states. This is a huge competitive advantage. Make sure your IT allows different online payment methods.
3. Supply Chain Management. A good IT program can make sure you have products exactly when you need them. It can manage your inventory as well as the clerical supplies that keep offices running.
4. Customer Relationship Management. Nothing can destroy your business faster than poor customer relations. And few things can give you a better competitive advantage than a host of loyal customers. Use information technology to help you follow up with customers, hear and respond to complaints, and segment your customers to reward larger spenders.
5. Automation Software. Your automated programs can track numbers of sales, customers, and transaction details. It can make those numbers available across a variety of documents for taxes, customer follow up, and financial accounting. Paperwork is not glamorous, but when you save hours and dollars with excellent software, it becomes cool.
6. Collaboration Software. Quality programs help teams work together. It allows documents to easily be shared. On a basic level it connects computers, applications, printers, and internet connections. These simple steps save you time and money. They also make a more productive and satisfied, team.
7. Web Design. Each company wants to stand out. With your unique website you can differentiate your products from your competitors.
8. Client Segmentation. Don’t waste your advertising dollars on clients who won’t buy. Use software to focus on those who do. Sophisticated information systems segment your list so you can target new buyers and big spenders and spend little time on “lookers.”
9. Privacy. Use IT to protect the confidential information of your customers and employees. Nothing breaks trust with your customers like a hacker stealing their credit information from your site. That extra layer of information technology can give you a competitive edge against other businesses in your field.
Ann, you don’t even need to use every one of these programs right away. Choose the two or three areas in your business that could most benefit from streamlining, and start there.
Soon you’ll find ways your competitive advantage is bringing in more clients and more income for your company. Information technology really does let you work smarter, faster, and with a lower cost.
To learn how your company can blow your competition out of the water, contact Joel.
Talkback: What programs or software have you used to give your business an advantage?
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“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
~Peter F. Drucker~
Client Jakob Asks: I’m in upper management in an international corporation and I want to move higher in my company. My peers have hired executive coaches. Sometimes I see great results, but sometime I don’t see that it made a dramatic difference for them. What can I do to make sure my executive coaching boosts me up the corporate ladder?
Coach Joel Answers: Executive coaching is a significant investment, not only in money, but in time and commitment. You want it to be meaningful to you.
What you get out of it depends on how much effort you put into it.
Be an Active Participant
A tepid response to coaching will produce weak improvement. To get the most from your coaching you need to approach it with goals in mind. Discuss them with your coach and then focus on them.
1. Build New Skills. The skills and traits that have gotten you to this point are not sufficient to take you to the very top of the corporate ladder. Your coach will help you build skills sets and habits for the level of management you will be doing.
2. Be Present. When you meet with your coach, close off all distractions. Don’t answer the phone or email or search the web. Focus. Give your entire attention to presenting issues and seeking solutions.
3. Be Teachable. Humility sometimes seems at odds with confidence that comes with a top corporate job. But true confidence allows you to be humble and teachable. Jakob, when you resist criticism or new ideas, you stop your progress. Be willing to accept ideas without rebutting or rationalizing. Consider their merit. Be eager for growth. Then you set the stage for great progress.
4. Be Committed to Success. In the beginning, you gave me the top 3 goals you wanted to gain from this engagement. Make it meaningful and achievable goals. Then be willing to do what it takes to accomplish it. Your coach will guide you and give you suggestions and insights that will help you reach your goals faster than you could on your own.
5. Take Action. Learning without doing is like sitting at dinner without eating. It accomplishes little. The natural next step to learning is putting what you’ve learned into action. There is a tendency to think you don’t know enough.
Often people enter this learning mode without moving forward. Resist it. Once you know, take action. Yes, you’ll need to refine and correct. But your learning increases as you act on what you know.
6. Overcome Fears. Change involves risk. It’s moving out of the safe zone into the unknown. Your coach understands that, and you should too. Be willing to take that risk. Dare to be great. Stumbles are a part of life. Don’t stand still because you are unwilling to make a mistake.
7. Break Habits. Powerful, significant executive coaching takes place when clients are willing and ready to break habits that are holding them back. Your coach will help you recognize what traits are limiting you.
But only you can make the decision that your success is more important than those old habits. If you want your coaching to have the desired results, you must be willing to leave the restraining behaviors behind.
Jakob, you are smart to start achieving now. Building new skills takes time. But when you commit to achieving your goal and are willing to put in the focus, time and effort, you’ll see that your corporate executive coaching will take you where you want to go.
When you connect a skilled executive coach with a willing, motivated manager you will see the dramatic results you desire.
If you’re interested in making the most of your corporate coaching experience talk to Joel. He will help you focus, step out in new ways, and build habits of success. Connect now.
Talkback: How successful has your executive coaching experience been? What was the thing that had the most impact on your upward advancement?
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“Nothing can be more absurd than the practice. . . of men and women not following the same pursuits with all their strengths and with one mind, for thus, the state instead of being whole is reduced to half.”
~ Plato ~
Client Mary Ann Asks: I’ve got a real dilemma on my hands. I’ve got two very talented managers who have been on my team for several years. Martin is a real go-getter, definitely somebody who gets the job done. Danielle is a great motivator, a real team player that brings out the best in her people. There’s one open position that would be a move up for both of them—but it’s only one position. Does gender make a difference? Which one should I promote?
Coach Joel Answers: Leadership styles are not gender-neutral. But when you’re looking at a promotion situation such as this one, I think you need to put gender aside for the moment and look at some key management characteristics. Ask yourself these three critical questions:
- What’s best for the job?
- What’s best for the staff?
- What’s best for the person?
Statistically speaking, there are clear differences in male and female leadership styles. A study conducted by McKinsey & Company shows that men and women use key leadership behaviors differently. The three behaviors most often used by women were people development, expectations and rewards, and role model. Women were also more likely to use inspiration and participative decision making. Men, on the other hand, utilized control and corrective action, as well as individual decision making with more frequency. There was virtually no difference in men and women when it came to intellectual stimulation and efficient communication.
So with that in mind, let’s consider those three questions.
1. What’s best for the job? Consider first what outcomes you are expecting for this position. If you are in a growth mode with lots of new initiatives and projects that need motivation and team building, you might lean toward Danielle. On the other hand, if this is a position that involves quick decision-making rather than consensus-building, or if that department is in need of some rebuilding, Martin might be a good choice.
2. What’s best for the staff? Think about the direct reports that this person will have. Will they thrive on a highly creative, free-flowing environment or do they need structure and stability? Think about assertiveness vs. empathy, encouragement vs. direction. Picture each person in the department and visualize him or her reporting to either Martin or Danielle. You’ll know instinctively which manager each person would thrive under. You might end up deciding on the individual who provides “the greatest good for the greatest number.”
3. What’s best for the person? You want to set the individual up for success. Think beyond your own immediate needs for the department and look to the future. Where do you see your department in five years? How does Martin fit that picture? How about Danielle? You also need to think about how you’ll utilize and continue to reward the individual who doesn’t get promoted.
Both men and women have a lot to offer in terms of their leadership styles. None of the characteristics we’ve talked about are either good or bad—they just are. Your job is to decide which kind of leader is best for your department and your people at this particular time.
Are you faced with a tough promotion decision? Joel can talk you through it—email him today.
Talkback: How do you think gender differences affect leadership styles? Share your experience here.
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“The idea of a work/life balance is much more important to younger workers than it ever was with baby boomers. Companies are looking at retention issues.”
~ Jen Jorgensen, Marketing Strategist ~
Client Sandy asks: Our company culture is big on a lot of the rah-rah stuff. We have a softball team, monthly pizza feeds, suggestion boxes in every department, and a costume contest on Halloween. It all looks like fun, but lately we’ve lost some of our best people and I’m feeling the need to create some more substantial employee retention programs. As HR manager, I’m committed to hiring and keeping good employees. But there are so many kinds of retention programs out there that I don’t know where to start.
Coach Joel Answers: When you create a workplace culture that fully engages and rewards employees at all levels, you win in three important ways: you build a loyal, committed workforce; you develop a great reputation among clients, customers and the public; and you avoid the financial losses that high employee turnover creates. Here are three hallmarks of a good retention program.
1. Avoid gimmicks. You mention your pizza feeds and suggestions boxes, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with those. Who doesn’t love a good pizza? But these are short-term, cosmetic kinds of programs and they don’t build employee loyalty that lasts. When you’re designing a program, you need to include several important factors. First, you need to align with your company’s strategic objectives. You need to consider what your competitors are doing and look at best practices in your industry. And most important, you need to include your employees in planning and implementing any new initiatives. People support what they help create.
For example, one of the best ways to retain good employees is to design a personal growth program that’s customized for each individual. Work with your managers to develop a checklist they can use that includes things like in-house and external training programs, executive coaching, job-sharing, and cross-training.
2. Bridge the gap. The generation gap, that is. Employee retention is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There’s a big difference between the needs and wants of baby boomers and Gen-Xers, and chances are you have some of each.
Because baby boomers are thought to be the healthiest generation out there, they have plenty left to offer and many still want to make their mark in the business world. Provide them with opportunities to be creative, express initiative and pass on their knowledge to the generations coming up behind them.
Gen-Xers, on the other hand, place a high value on quality of life issues such as work/life balance and public service. At the same time, they are known to have much less commitment to the corporation and are much less reluctant to switch jobs, companies, and even careers. Set up a two-way mentoring program where the generations can interact with and learn from each other. You’ll solidify your relationship with both of them.
3. Count the cost. You already know that employee turnover is costing you money. But there are costs you can see and costs you probably don’t notice. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, employee turnover averages around 14% in most companies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average cost to replace an employee in private industry is about $14,000. These are hard costs that drop straight to your bottom line. But what about the hidden costs? Consider these questions:
- How much stress and poor performance are created when employees have to pick up the workload of someone who leaves?
- How many customers do you lose when stressed-out employees give poor service?
- How many other employees might be lured away by an employee who leaves?
- How many employees start to think about other options when a valued friend or trusted colleague changes jobs?
When you implement the strategies we’ve suggested, you will have taken a big step toward building a satisfied, committed workforce. And you’ll see the results in higher productivity, better customer service, and bigger profits.
Joel would love to discuss specific retention programs that can work for you and your employees. Email him today.
Talkback: Is turnover causing you problems? Or have you tried some strategies that really work? Share your story here.
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