Give Thanks and Ask the Right Questions to Retain Your Valuable Employees

By Alan Gehringer

dateTue, Dec 17, 2013 @ 09:30 AM

The holiday season is always a good time to pause and give thanks for the people in our personal lives.  We do this by hosting holiday gatherings, visiting friends and family, sending out cards, and giving gifts. It is also an opportunity to give thanks for the people in our professional lives.  Most of the companies I work with push hard all year driving prosperous growth while building the best teams possible.  It is one thing to hire the best people, it is another to retain, nurture and help them grow.   We use testing tools like DISC, Myers-Briggs, McQuaig and others to pre-screen.  We use methodologies like progressive interviews or TopGrading to further evaluate the candidates.  The survey and interview techniques assist us in getting the best person in each seat in the company. 

Once we have the right team in place, it is essential we build the right Culture based on our Core Values and a Core Purpose and set the right vision with an inspiring and motivating BHAG.  How else can we show thanks, engage and retain our valuable people?

Here are some tips I learned years ago from a short book Love ‘Em or Lose 'Em by Kaye andRhythm Systems blog Give Thanks and Ask the Right Questions to Retain Your Valuable Employees Jordon-Evans.  The book was a Wall Street Journal Bestseller and is published in 20 languages.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I like books based on research, and the authors have interviewed over 60,000 mangers to validate the findings.  I think there is some good information in the book that can help us retain people while showing our appreciation for them.

The title has four important words behind its meaning:

Love - Treat employees fairly and respectfully.  Thank, care for, challenge and develop them to engage and retain them.

Lose – Loss is just as serious when talent retires on the job as when as they leave to join a competitor. 

Good – Consider your solid citizens, not just your stars. The right people at all levels bring value to the organization.

Stay – Encourage talented people to stay with the organization even if it is in another role or department. Look for paths to grow people.

There are three key truths in the book:

Truth 1: Engaging and keeping people is a perennial issue.  Good managers realize they need to retain their best people despite economic fluctuations. They are helping to build the business for the future while adding value on a daily basis.

Truth 2: The manager has influence. People work for and quit people.  Employees like monetary rewards and benefits, but they are also motivated by challenging and meaningful work, opportunities for growth and learning, recognition and respect and the chance to work with great people.

Truth 3: There are 26 tested strategies you can use to engage and retain your talent.  Most managers want to engage and retain their best employees and some do it better than others.  There are many things you can do to improve your efforts.  For the sake of brevity in this blog, I am not going to go into the 26 strategies and instead suggest picking up a copy of the book if you’re interested in learning more.

One easy thing you can do is ask your employees some questions that provide insight into why they stay or what might lure them away. 

Here is a list of questions to get you started:

What will keep you here?

What might entice you away?

What is most energizing about your work?

Are we fully utilizing your talents?

What is inhibiting your success?

What can I do differently to best assist you?

Do you feel you get enough recognition?

Are the expectations for your job clear?

You can ask these questions during an annual or quarterly review or schedule a special meeting just to explore and learn more from the individual.

Here are the top 10 responses the research uncovered for the first question: 

1.    Exciting work and challenge

2.    Career growth, learning and development

3.    Working with great people

4.    Fair pay

5.    Supportive management/good boss

6.    Being recognized, valued and respected

7.    Benefits

8.    Meaningful work and making a difference

9.    Pride in the organization, its mission and its product

10.  Great work environment and culture.

Take the opportunity to ask these questions as you wind up your year.  Learn from the findings and look for ways to show appreciation, give thanks while looking for ways to improve the experience.   You may just develop a roadmap for growth for each one of your employees for the year to come.  What better gift to offer and way to say thanks for all you have done.

Good luck and lead well, Alan


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Alan Gehringer


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