Coach’s Corner Blog

The Best Holiday Gift Leaders Can Give

December 7, 2016 by Leave a Comment


Jared Lindzon, in his November 11, 2016 article in Fast Company magazine, Why Nearly Half of Workers Globally Could Leave Their Jobs in 2017, said that the primary reason for employees leaving is poor management.

Researchers found that an employee is nearly 10 times more likely to be very satisfied with their job when they are led by someone they feel is honest and trustworthy. Those who feel their superiors do not exhibit such behaviors are four times more likely to be looking for a different job.

Lindzon suggests five strategies for leaders to avoid unwanted turnover by key employees:

  1. Allow employees to save face in difficult situations.
  2. Acknowledging their own mistakes before criticizing employees.
  3. Recognized improved performance.
  4. Give praise and appreciation.
  5. Encourage improvement.

Here’s why and how I support each strategy. Embracing these will be a gift for you and your staff for years to come:

Allow Employees to Save Face

I don’t know anyone who has ever accomplished anything that has not made mistakes or errors in judgment along the way. I know that I have. Short of moral or legal transgressions, it is important that our staff know that we are there and “have their backs” when the going gets tough.

I had a member of my team who made an error in judgment in an interaction with another employee, making a joke that could be considered racially insensitive. A couple of other employees, who clashed with my staffer on other issues, decided this was a great way to get their revenge. There had never been any other concerns raised about her by anyone in what was a very diverse operation.

I went out of my way to reinforce the positive contributions and support her. She retained her position and we have maintained a strong bond ever since.

Acknowledge Errors by Leaders

Employees are attracted to managers who are willing to admit their own shortcomings and who do not seek to automatically criticize others if anything goes awry.

I have a client who is fond of saying “we are better than me” and reinforces the benefits of crafting solutions that reflect the very best thinking of everyone at the table. However, “we” can still be wrong from time to time, but my client is the one that accepts that responsibility and keeps moving things forward.

In this complex world, there are no easy solutions and a leader that reinforces how each challenge is a learning opportunity creates a powerful model.

Recognize Improved Performance

There’s been a lot said about how Millennials were brought up with participation trophies for everything they were involved in. I think that is an unfair characterization and believe that they, like all employees, are looking for support and reinforcement in improving their performance and contribution to the success of the firm.

Doing this in just the annual performance review is completely inadequate. Take the time to help shape employees performance by both regular and in the moment positive or constructive feedback when you can.

Give Praise and Recognition

Some of my clients over the years are just not very comfortable with providing recognition and celebrating successes. There are lots of reasons for this but it’s highly counterproductive.

I suggest that even a one-on-one acknowledgment of a good effort is motivating and leaders should look for those opportunities on a consistent basis.

Encourage the team to think about ways to celebrate success of the whole team.

Encourage Improvement

Competition in most industries is both global and relentless. Continuous improvement is not just a good idea but a necessity. Employees are motivated by knowing that there is an appreciation for and processes that consistently find ways to do things quicker, better and faster that will delight their customers.

The Critical Costs of Unwanted Turnover

The national jobs report indicated on December 2, 2016 that the unemployment rate dipped to 4.6% after the addition of 178,000 jobs. This strong job market is reflected in improving levels of consumer confidence despite our unsettled political environment. However, a new report by Dale Carnegie Training indicated that 15% of employees are actively looking for new jobs now and another 26% indicate that they intend to do so in the coming year.

Turnover is predictable in an expanding economy because people seek to advance their careers and earn more for their contributions. But turnover can lead to lost productivity, increased errors and additional stress on the remaining employees who must pick up the slack for their departed peers during the transition.

A recent article, “Turning the Tables: The Cost of Employee Turnover“, stated that the financial costs of replacing employees were substantial as well and varied by salary level as follows:

  • Less than $30,000: 16% of salary = $4,200
  • $50,000: 20% of salary = $10,000
  • Senior or Executive Level $150,000+: Over 200% = $300,000

That last figure may seem outrageous, but the need for a good fit technically and culturally has expanded dramatically due to the rising costs of making a bad hiring decision. In addition to direct recruiting costs such as search firms and advertising, the amount of time for multiple rounds of interviews at all levels of the organization has expanded as well.

Unfortunately, employee turnover is just a cost of doing business. But I think that Lindzon is right on target with his suggestions on how to maximize your opportunities for retaining talented staff. It’s also critical to recognize that these practices will do nothing but enhance the reputation of you as a leader and your firm. There is a huge benefit to even having former employees reflect positively about their experiences in your firm and under your leadership.

So, ask yourself:

  • Am I comfortable and effective with recognizing and encouraging improved performance on an ongoing basis?
  • Do I reinforce the idea that “we are better than me” yet still are willing to take the heat when things go wrong?
  • Have I shown that I am willing to admit mistakes and be a good role model for my team?

I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback.


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