“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
~ Anne M. Mulcahy ~
Felix is a supervisor of engineers at a nuclear power plant. His goal was to attract and retain his valuable employees. “The money invested in training new engineers is astonishing,” Felix said. “I wanted to keep my people.”
There are three supervisors over three divisions of workers. Felix noticed that one supervisor, Max, had a very large turnover in workers— nearly 100% annually. And the other supervisor, Madison, had almost no turnover.
“I was in the middle,” Felix said. “I had some turnover. More than I wanted, but a lot less than Max.”
Felix saw some of the reasons Max couldn’t keep his people. He was a workaholic and demanded the same of his employees. He was critical and demeaning.
“I wasn’t like that,” Felix said. “I thought I was a fair boss. But still… I had this attrition.”
Felix researched and found a study by John Kammeyer-Mueller of the University of Minnesota called Support, Undermining, and Newcomer Socialization. “It gave me three key pieces to help me support my new hires and make them more likely to stay for the long haul,” Felix said.
1. Management Matters
The study showed that the support of management outweighed support from co-workers. Support from co-workers did make the new hire feel better. But the praise, encouragement, and help from supervisors had greater impact.
That support—in the early days—made workers more likely to stay even months or years down the line. It helped establish their overall view of the company and the job.
“We have a really high learning curve,” Felix said. “Sometimes, I think, we just point them in the right direction and say, ‘Good luck.’ I realized we needed to do much better than this.”
Rather than thinking you could start the engineer on the training path and leave it to others to help out, Felix realized part of the success of his job was to be more involved.
2. Build Connection into the system
“I watched how Madison interacted with her employees. She didn’t taper off the contact after the first few weeks,” Felix said. “She really had a more involved approach. She had an open door policy. She gave specific feedback—both positive and negative—but in an easy-to-take way.”
Felix realized he needed to have greater interaction with the new hires even after the first few weeks. That was not long enough for them to be nearly up to speed. Some of them felt abandoned and then got unhappy or discouraged.
“I realized my feedback and support was vital not just in the beginning, but for months into the employee’s job,” Felix said. “And even after that, I needed to be more involved.” He scheduled time for his own open door policy. He took lunch with the engineers for a more casual time to chat. He tried to be more open with praise.
3. Attracting Valuable Employees
“I was surprised that even just supporting my current workers made a difference in new hires,” Felix said. “I overheard one new engineer talking to a friend just graduating. He was telling him to apply here. It was a great place to work.
“It kind of made my day. I realized I was doing it right. And it was attracting the kind of engineers I wanted.”
Felix realized that a happy work environment was where his engineers felt supported and encouraged. It then resulted in a word-of-mouth call for engineers who would fit well into that situation.
Overall, Felix found that his attrition dropped off and he retained his valuable employees longer. “I think the continued support and interaction of management made the difference,” Felix said. “We can’t just hire people and turn them loose. The more and longer I set up good work support, the happier my engineers became.”
Looking for ways to get your management more encouraging and supportive of your key workers? Contact Joel
Talkback: What are some ways you have found to attract and retain key players?
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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. I need to learn how to recruit and retain managerial talent. I want our people to stay with us and produce the results we’re looking for.
Coach Joel Answers: Mindy, you’ve hit on two key points. When you recruit well, the second issue—retention—becomes much easier. So let’s start with some recruiting tips to ensure that you are recruiting managers who will be more likely to stick around.
1. Determine your needs. First, it’s absolutely critical that 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, such as 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 when recruiting managers.
3. Sell yourself. What does your company offer to attract the kind of managers you want to hire? Being transparent about the type of company you are and what you have to offer is the key to retaining the managers you hire. 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 that 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 must provide them with the training they need to do their jobs well and to advance in the company. Retaining managers is easy if you can do these three things: 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 retaining managers 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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