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How Not to Lose Your Best Employee

How Not to Lose Your Best Employee

Finding good help is hard. When you have a good employee, you want to keep them around.

People leave positions for many reasons. Leadership plays a major role in job satisfaction. Those who feel unrecognized for their efforts are likely to walk. Those who deal with office politics, or find their managers to be self-serving may look elsewhere for a job.

Many people begin their job search under the radar, and as they interview, they recognize how undervalued they’ve become. If their job isn’t offering them opportunities for development and adequate compensation, you can bet that they’ll search for another employer.

While some people may have terrible bosses, many leave because of poor communication and general job dissatisfaction. It’s possible to set up systems so that your employees have the experience they deserve.

The ball is in the manager’s court

Managers are in a perfect position to turn things around for employees. One of the best ways to do this is by considering Catalyst factors and Nourishment factors.

Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer discuss Catalyst and Nourishment factors in their book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at WorkThese two factors help your employees remain engaged members of the team.

  • Catalyst factors are events and structures that help people make progress at work. Setting clear goals and giving people resources and support to meet those goals are examples of catalysts.
  • Nourishment factors tend to see employees as human beings. Getting to know them, showing respect, and offering emotional support are a few ways to offer nourishment.

Let’s take a look at a real life example of this.

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    Airbnb ranks number 6 out of 252 businesses evaluated for their employee experience.[1] They have an excellent company culture, which directly affects their success as a business.

    Their recipe for employee satisfaction isn’t rocket science. They consider employees needs in all aspects of their work environment. Company culture focuses on creating a welcoming environment, and their vision and mission are clear to everyone who works for them.

    Airbnb recognizes that as they grow, their culture has to evolve so that everyone can stay connected.[2] To ensure that employees are supported, they have a Global Head of Employee Experience tasked with making sure that everyone’s needs are met.

    To be successful, employees need nourishment and catalysts. Employees in a supportive and engaging environment are more likely to stay with the company. They need the feeling of accomplishment that comes with making progress to give their work meaning and value.

    Lead with catalysts: encourage progress

    1. Set goals for projects

    Setting clear goals gives everyone direction and holds them accountable for their progress.

    If your team takes on a big project, have a meeting to set out short and long-term goals. Give employees a chance to speak up and ask questions. Every person can walk away knowing exactly what the end result of their efforts will be.

    2. Build autonomy in the workplace

    Give employees freedom to do their work in the way that makes best use of their talents. If you’ve set clear goals, it doesn’t matter how they reach the objective as long as they do. Micromanagement is guaranteed to stifle creativity and make people unhappy.

    Some of the most talented and creative people don’t do well in extremely structured environments. Albert Einstein failed in school, and he was one of the most brilliant scientists of all time. That employee that never seems to do things the normal way but always produces excellent work is your Einstein.

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    3. Give people what they need

    You wouldn’t try to bake a cake without having all the ingredients. You can’t ask employees to do great work if you don’t offer them the training and resources they need. Providing resources shows employee that the company cares about them and wants them to succeed.

    Perhaps you notice that employees are having difficulty using the software at your company. Instead of getting upset, invest in training sessions to get everyone on the same page. They’ll see that you care, and they’ll be able to do the work.

    4. Be conscious of your timeline

    Giving employees an impossible deadline will discourage them and prevent them from being creative. Employees need deadlines, but they also need enough time to do their work.

    When people feel the slight pressure of a deadline, they do their best creative work. According to Parkinson’s Law, tasks will take as much time as you give them.[3] Your job is to find the middle ground between giving them too much time and not enough.

    Imagine that you need a detailed report from your team. It’s a mountain of work. If you asked them to give you the report in a week, they might roll their eyes. The deadline is too ambitious. Instead, ask for a rough draft in two weeks and a final by the end of the month.

    5. Roll up your sleeves

    Employees don’t respect managers who spend their days hidden away in offices or vacationing on exotic islands. You don’t need to be in the trenches on the front line every day, but if you see that they need help, don’t be afraid to jump in.

    Helping might mean mentoring a struggling employee, brainstorming with another colleague, or stepping in when you can see that a project is in trouble. Noticing when employees lack a resource and getting it to them is another way you can help.

    The employee who is struggling is probably already nervous. They’ll be much more willing to learn if you offer to take them under your wing. That added support shows that you’re invested in their success.

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    6. Make it okay to fail

    We’re taught to fear failure from an early age. Avoiding failure keeps us from taking risks and innovating. Make your work culture one where failure is a a valued part of learning. Employees will be more willing to step out of their comfort zone when you do this.

    Pixar’s culture revolves around failing fast and often.[4] Every employee is free to voice their opinions on creative matters, and when they make mistakes, they are actually making progress and trying to breakthrough.

    7. Use your ears and give them a voice

    Empowering employees to speak up allows ideas to flow freely. Encourage everyone to share their opinions. By hearing diverse perspectives and respecting constructive criticism, you can learn how to support your team and the company’s goals.

    I worked for an organization that called together teams from across the region. One team traveled 6 hours to the meetings, while others traveled 3 hours or less. The team with the longest commute voiced their opinions to their manager, who moved the gatherings to a central location. All the teams felt that this was fair, and they believed that their voices were heard.

    Nourish your team: respect and support

    1. Show employees respect

    You set the example for how others should be treated. When an employee comes to you with a concern, consider what they have to say. Even if you don’t agree with them, it’s important that they feel their concerns are heard.

    Imagine a team member comes into your office with a problem that seems trivial to you. Hear them out. If the issue is affecting their experience, it may be affecting others as well. By giving them the space, you can make the environment better.

    2. Give encouragement

    Recognizing effort and accomplishment makes employees feel good, and it shows that you’re paying attention. Lack of appreciation is a major source of unhappiness in the workplace. Take the extra moment to offer a compliment or provide formal recognition, and you’ll create a sense of loyalty and pride.

    You might notice that a team member puts in extra time to make sure that their work is high quality. Acknowledge that you’ve seen how hard they work. They’ll feel that they’re part of something bigger.

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    3. Offer emotional support

    You aren’t a therapist, but you can listen. Everybody has a bad day or gets frustrated sometimes. Recognize the effect that the employee’s mood has on the workplace so that you can give them the support or space that they need to feel better.

    Imagine that one of your employees experienced a death in their family. They try to come back to work the day after the funeral, but they’re clearly upset. You may be able to support them by letting them know that it’s okay for them to take a few days off to mourn. When they come back, they will be able to do their work, and they’ll know you see them as a human being.

    4. Bond your team

    Find ways to help coworkers trust and appreciate one another. As they solidify bonds, they’ll be able to have a more pleasant and fun working relationship.

    Have a company picnic or celebrate birthdays. Organize an intramural sports team or plan a company trip. These are opportunities for people to socialize and build memories as a team. At Lifehack, we celebrate employees’ birthdays and have regular activities like hiking and video-gaming sessions to engage the team.

    Make your best hires stay

    You can make the best hires, but if you can’t keep them, your business will never grow. Consider Catalyst and Nourishment factors to improve work culture and help employees have a better experience.

    Small actions can have major impacts on how your people view their job. Support them, and your superstar employees will stick around.

    Featured photo credit: Pixels via pexels.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on July 18, 2019

    How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

    How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

    Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

    However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

    Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

    Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

    There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

    Better Job Offers

    Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

    People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

    Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

    You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

    Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

    A Shot at Entrepreneurship

    Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

    We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

    13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

    1. Update Your Resume

    You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

    Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

    While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

    There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

    2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

    Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

    That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

    To hone this skill:

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    Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

    Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

    This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

    How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

    3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

    Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

    Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

    To hone this skill:

    Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

    4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

    No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

    Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

    To hone this skill:

    Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

    Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

    These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

    The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

    5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

    Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

    How to hone this skill:

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    Practice being resourceful.

    Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

    Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

    No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

    If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

    6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

    6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

    Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

    The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

    Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

    How to hone this skill:

    Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

    Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

    17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

    7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

    Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

    What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

    How to hone this skill:

    Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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    Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

    5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

    8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

    Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

    Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

    How to hone this skill:

    Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

    Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

    What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

    9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

    How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

    Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

    How to hone this skill:

    Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

    Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

    The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

    10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

    Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

    How to hone this skill:

    Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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    Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

    What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

    11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

    Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

    You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

    How to hone this skill:

    All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

    How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

    12. Build Networks and Relationships

    You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

    Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

    How to hone this skill:

    Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

    To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

    How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

    Final Thoughts

    Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

    You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

    Happy career switching!

    More Resources About Career Advancement

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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