Have you ever noticed that some employees will stay in jobs that they do not really enjoy, or are not really suited to for long periods of time? Have you met people who stay in a lower paying job even though they have been offered more money somewhere else? A business needs long-term employees in order to be successful and competitive over the long run. So why aren’t all employees loyal to one employer for their entire careers?
It is a common assumption in business that people seldom actually leave a job for money. My experience as a manager taught me that there is a lot of truth in that statement. Money is often used as an excuse but truly engaged employees will never know how much they are worth at another shop because they do not search for other opportunities and they do not even entertain offers from other employers. So what might be different about a workplace where employees stay on board through thick and thin, year in and year out? Two words explain it: Great Leadership!
When I was a regional manager for a large multi-national firm, I could almost always correlate large staff turnover rates with poor branch performance. That part was easy to understand because when a lot of staff are coming and going, the experienced workers are stretched by doing more than their share of the work, while at same time having to train the new employees. The new employees, through no fault of their own generally know very little about their new jobs and have a huge learning curve to overcome before they can become good performers. In poorly lead companies, many of them do not make it past the training stage and every time a trainee leaves the firm, another experienced person is pushed that much closer to the door. While all of that is going on, the business cannot possibly focus on strong performance and production tends to wane.
In almost every case where I found large turnover rates, I found a manager who was not a leader. In most of those cases, when I spoke to them about it, they could not understand why their people did not choose to stay and they protested ferociously if I suggested that employees might be leaving because of their management style. Usually they argued that the people were the problem and it had nothing to do with them. In most cases they felt that they did everything any great leader would do under the circumstances and that they simply had a shortage of good applicants. They could not accept the idea that people did not enjoy working for them and they had no idea what to do about it. They did not understand that they had employees, but what they really needed was followers. In a few cases, I was forced to relieve those managers of their management positions in order to maintain the profitability of the branches. Some people can learn to be better leaders through training and personal development, while others cannot.
Here are ten things that great leaders do to engage their employees and keep them on staff:
• They lead with humility and selflessness, putting the needs of employees ahead of their own.
• They work tirelessly, setting a great example for their team.
• They support their workers when they have problems or get into trouble.
• They listen constantly and consistently to their workers.
• They respond immediately, openly and honestly when asked a question.
• They do not play favourites and treat everyone fairly and equitably.
• They never show impatience or anger toward employees.
• They never speak negatively about employees behind their backs.
• They make good decisions for the business and for their workers.
• They understand that every person is different and that no two people perform the same way.
Of course this is not the complete list. There are many attributes that make up a great leadership style but most importantly great leaders must know how to lead themselves first and they must accept that they too, have room to grow. Only through self-awareness can any person lead another. A manager who has large staff turnover rates and poor performance has probably not come to grips with his or her inability to lead. Until he or she looks in the mirror and tells the person looking back that they need to change, they will never become a great leader.
A leader without long-term, engaged and devoted followers is just a lonely person with a title.
All the Best!