Recruiting the right employees is a time-consuming and important process. Hiring the right people is critical to the organization achieving its goals. But what happens when a new hire shows up for work? How can you make sure your star candidate becomes a happy, dedicated employee who never wants to leave?
I’ve learned five keys to meeting new employees’ expectations and keeping them engaged on the job.
“How Can I Help” Leadership
Command and control is old-school; servant leadership is the new school of management. To improve retention, throw out old dictatorial practices and focus on how leaders help employees achieve their goals. Rather than tell people what to do, the servant leader looks for ways to remove obstacles that prevent people from succeeding.
As an executive servant leader, I dedicated at least 50 percent of my time each week meeting with people to understand how they did their job and what they needed to achieve their goals more effectively. I always took notes and made a point of following up to report on what actions I had taken as a result of their input.
In addition, every month I held “bear pit” sessions where I invited key employees from various functions to come together and “have at me.” They asked bold questions and I answered, unaccompanied by my support staff. To say that these sessions were grueling would be an understatement but I quickly learned how people were feeling in my organization and what was needed to enhance their engagement.
Regular Performance Feedback
Everyone wants to improve, and if employees don’t get constructive performance assessment on a frequent basis, they feel abandoned by the organization. They have no idea what they need to do to improve and as a result feel that no one really cares about helping them do a better job. Employees who don’t get feedback leave for an organization that has employee performance management hardwired into its culture. Show your people that preparing employees for future opportunities is a priority for leadership.
I held each of my direct reports accountable for conducting regular performance reviews with their reports; it was a key element in their performance plan and their annual bonus depended on how well they carried out the task.
Career Development Plans
Every employee needs a specific plan for how they’ll learn new skills and get exposure to new opportunities. Leaders are responsible for making sure every employee has a detailed career plan, including potential lateral moves that could enhance their long-term potential.
One way I measured a leader’s effectiveness: looking at how many of their employees moved around to new positions in the organization in order to expose them to new challenges. The effective leaders made it a priority to proactively move their people around; the mediocre ones never did and as a result had short tenure in my organization.
A Personalized Culture of Engagement
A culture isn’t created by corporate programs. It’s defined by everyday personalized acts of leadership. No two people can be engaged in the same way, hence the problem with a single engagement program that is forced to fit all individuals. Instead, a leader can create a personalized culture based on how they interact with each employee every day.
My calendar was full of one-on-one conversations with individuals in my organization. Those conversations made it fairly easy to understand how I could help them identify more strongly with the goals of the organization.
The most obvious way to retain employees is to satisfy their basic needs: pay and benefits. Without those fundamentals, it’s difficult to attract people through the recruitment process and to hold them if they take a position with you. You must be at least comparable to your competitors to play the game.
Standout organizations with incredible retention rates invest heavily to both discover individuals who align with their vision and values and to build a culture that encourages them to stay. The leader who wants to retain loyal employees makes it an everyday priority. Focus on these five practices and not only will your retention rates improve, your peers will look at you as the organization to watch in the field.