As a manager, your role, values and management style all have a significant bearing on the degree to which your team members feel engaged and motivated. So trying to create a climate that makes ‘staying’ worthwhile for your team is therefore a good investment. Here are some quick tips drawn directly from the Toolkit for Managers – used by more than a million managers for instant performance support – which outlines a number of things you can do to engage and retain your best talent. From the e-learning Consortium.
Keep a finger on the pulse
Pay close attention to how people feel about their work and take proactive steps to keep your talent from walking out the door. Explore with team members – either during appraisals or more informally – what makes them tick. What are their values? What motivates them? Identify recurrent problems. Continuously ask what matters most and respond to what you hear. Understand the needs and aspirations of individuals, so you can explore creative ways to motivate them. Work with them to identify underlying needs and plan how you can help them meet them.
Consider developing individualised retention plans for top talent. These should explore a balance between development, work challenge and work–life balance. Stay in touch with previous talented employees. You can learn from them and develop an environment that might encourage them back.
Create meaningful, exciting jobs
Employees are more likely to stay if they feel fulfilled in their jobs. Mould roles and responsibilities to individual strengths wherever possible. If feasible, losing an unappealing element of a job could encourage a team member to stay. Often, people enjoy a challenging job more than one which does not stretch them sufficiently. So construct jobs that challenge individuals. Consider job-swapping, job enrichment, or project work to maintain interest and provide opportunities for personal development. Set clear objectives. Employees want goals to work towards and milestones against which they can assess their progress. Show how their input is tied to corporate goals.
Ensure that you recognise progress and high performance. A lack of recognition can lead to low morale. Personal awards are most effective when they are immediate and informal. A brief handwritten note, a short phone call, or a simple verbal thank you can be perceived as genuine and sincere, often more so than well-structured and well-intentioned corporate recognition programmes. Empowerment can be a powerful motivator. It tells employees they are valued. Encourage team members to take more control over their work by giving them as much freedom as you both feel is appropriate. Tolerate their mistakes, where reasonable, in order to help them learn and build their confidence which, in turn, increases contribution and anchors commitment.
Encourage personal growth
Career growth and L&D are consistently cited as reasons for remaining loyal to an employer. Effective feedback on individual performance is essential for personal development. Help evaluate your employees’ skills and competencies and set in motion the development they need. Create career development plans that engage and retain your employees. Surveys repeatedly, and overwhelmingly, show that quality of life is more valuable to employees than material gain. A balance between work and family or social life can help ensure an employee remains happy in the workplace.
Make sure that team members are taking their full holiday entitlement. Consider your own working practice. What image or message does this portray? Where you can, allow for flexibility in work hours to help team members handle personal problems and domestic arrangements. Organisations that care, that engage employees and invest in them, will still lose some key staff – but they will retain many more, and these will be their high performers. If you manage others, you have the power to help make staying worthwhile for your team.