It was author, speaker, and business consultant Marcus Buckingham who said,
“People leave managers, not companies.”
That can be hard to hear if you are a corporate leader. It might even sting a little. Or maybe you just think to yourself, “Ah well, he doesn’t know my organization,” and wave it away.
But he’s not wrong.
A Gallup poll taken in 2019 uncovered some startling facts about voluntary employee turnover in the U.S. To sum it up, the poll shows turnover to be: 1) expensive, 2) preventable, and 3) largely, if not wholly, the leader’s responsibility.
Employees transitioning to other companies were asked if their former leaders had inquired about their job satisfaction or career development in their last three months at that job. How many do you think said yes?
Yes, that their leaders had checked in with the hands and feet of their company?
Yes, that their leaders showed them that they cared they were fulfilled in their roles?
Yes, that their leaders projected a future for them at their organization?
Ideally, all of these former employees would have said yes. But if you think about it more realistically, you might think it’s closer to 80%, or even 70%.
But really, it was less than half.
Less than half of respondents said that within three months of their departure, their leaders did not check in with them in that crucial way.
And not just their direct leaders – any leader in the company.
You know that leaders set the tone for their people. Leaders model priorities. But that is not only true for what they do – it is just as much true for what they don’t do. A leader’s silence speaks volumes.
And the message that silence is sending costs U.S. businesses more than $1 trillion in turnover costs every year!
Now more than ever, businesses are catering to their customers’ individual preferences. Services are more specified than ever – unique-to-you streaming platform feeds and made-to-order custom meals make each consumer the star of the show. Organizations know that no two people are exactly alike, so they treat them like individuals.
We must do the same with our employees.
This quote sums it up best, I think:
“A good leader is like a good tailor – they take new measurements with every visit.”
A good leader understands that one size, one style, will not get the job done.
If we want to keep our top talent, we must let them know that we value them…
…that we personally value them as people.
…with our actions and our words alike.
1. Spend time with your people.
Sure, it is true – you and each member of your team have been brought together by a common need for your skills.
And yes – some leaders avoid spending time with their people on principle. How you handle team building is your decision.
However, if you only ever talk to your people about results and roles, they will believe you see them as a skill set, and not as a person.
2. Talk to your people about the things they value.
While you’re at the front of the meeting discussing the organization’s strategic goals and project progress, they are trying to relate it back to the things they value – but as their leader, making that connection is part of your job description.
And if you’re not sure what they value, spend a little more time with them and find out!
Do what the Gallup poll employers failed to do, and reach out to them. Ask them about their experience at work – what is frustrating them? Where do they see themselves growing in the organization? And outside of the office, what do they aspire to? What do they want to accomplish? What are they working toward personally and professionally?
“Retention” has become an intimidating word in today’s talent-scarce market.
But it doesn’t have to be. When you show your people know they matter to you, you will matter to them – and their buy-in is more valuable than any other asset you could have.
Curious about more retention tips? Keep your eye on your inbox next week (if you’re subscribed) – or skip ahead and check out all five strategies for retaining top talent in my free guide linked here. I used these strategies to lead teams to success in my leadership career at Volvo and Group Renault – let me know how they help your organization!
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.