Many leaders live, work, and lead in fear of one word…
It is one of the corporate world’s greatest struggles – trying to hold onto top-performing talent. “Retention” is a feared and dreaded world. It carries with it a bad connotation. It can feel less like retaining and more like detaining, like we are holding onto our people as tightly as we can.
Understandably so. It can cost a business anywhere from 50% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them. And that does not even take into account the lost potential in ideas and insight, and turnover’s dramatic hit to morale.
But this fear-based approach is actually killing retention!
Even with so much to lose, leaders cannot fear losing their top performers. Especially with so much to lose. Fear blinds, deafens, and distracts. Fear keeps us from asking questions whose answers we may not want to hear, even if they will build an important bridge. And if we are going to keep our best team members leaned in, we must be intentional about our approach.
As with so many things in life, it is a matter of perspective. One of the best things you can do for your people is to improve your relationship to “retention.”
But first, let’s pick a better word than “retention…” It is an intimidating word that can come with a lot of baggage, and it places the focus on holding onto something.
“Inclusion” is closer to the perspective that best serves leaders and their teams. Inclusion focuses on creating an environment that everyone wants to be a part of.
When we reframe retention to inclusion, we move away from fear – paralysis and avoidance – and into proactivity – solutions-seeking and inspiration. We set an example of problem-solving for our team. We improve their experience and communicate their value.
Yes, yes, I hear you – sure, it is easy to say, “Simply think about it in a new way,” and it is another thing to actually see this perspective shift make a difference in the attitude of our team members toward our organization.
And certainly, it is almost always easier to say than it is to do (unless the thing you are doing is taking a deep breath and the thing you are saying is the name of this town in Wales).
But consider that perspective is underneath everything we do.
Fears we do not have cannot affect our decisions, control our actions, or blind us to important needs. If we are not afraid of losing our team, we can feel free to have crucial conversations with them. When looking through the lens of inclusion, we find opportunities to draw them in. Especially helpful questions include…
What did you love about last week? This encourages the employee to look for the things about their role that they appreciate.
What did you learn last week? Here, you help the team member see that they are growing in their role.
What will you be working on next week? With this question, the employee begins looking toward their near future at your organization.
How can I help? This question shows your team member that you value their needs.
All of these questions communicate your investment in your team member’s experience, and their answers offer you insight on their attitude toward their role.
Additionally, consider that through inclusion, even transition becomes an opportunity.
Let’s say our “worst fear” comes to pass and someone does decide to leave. In our desperation, we might feel the urge to “win them back.” But this is a losing battle. It is nearly impossible to change someone’s mind who has fallen out of love with their role.
Instead, we wish them well and do our best to understand their decision so we can further improve the environment we are building toward inclusion. We make things even better for those who decided to stay.
I have more to say about the long-fought struggle that is retention – but I’m afraid that will have to wait until next week :)
…Unless you’d like to skip ahead and read up on all five of my strategies for retaining top talent. For those of you in the middle of the turnover tussle, I have prepared a free guide available here – drop me a message and let me know what you think!
That’s all for now.
Until next time,
Get My Free Guide: 5 Strategies for Retaining Top Talent
Voluntary turnover it’s an ALARMINGLY preventable problem.
To combat this, I have outlined five leadership strategies that will keep your top performers leaned in and performing.