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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

    How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Find Your Keystone Habits to Change Your Life

    How to Find Your Keystone Habits to Change Your Life

    When a young CEO stepped in at the helm of a dying giant, his first task was to figure out what needed to be done to save the company. After he spent some time researching the company and the market situation, he came up with a simple plan which he introduced to the shareholders in his first speech as the CEO.

    He spoke just about one single thing–safety. Everyone in the room thought he was crazy and some people jumped the soon-to-be-dead ship.

    15 years later, he not salvaged the giant, but made it one of the strongest steel and metal companies in the world and made a global name of himself.

    The company is Alcoa and the guy was Paul O’Neill.

    But the story matters to us for one thing only and that is the relentless focus he had on safety and security in his company. Paul O’Neill said that his employees deserve to leave work the same way they arrived at it–unharmed.

    And it was this radical focus on a single habit in the company that made it great. A single focus on a single habit which had a massive ripple effect.

    This is known as a keystone habit.

    The Importance of a Keystone Habit

    A keystone habit is a habit which has the biggest ripple effect in your life which means that by implementing it, you will radically change everything in your life.

    It’s quite easy to spot the keystone habits which make your life miserable.

    Take overeating as an example. If you weigh 400 pounds, you’re bedridden and your physical health massively declines. You can’t function individually so you need help to even do the basic things like going to the toilet or walking up the stairs. Since you can’t move, you can’t go to your job so you probably lose it. And since you can’t move, you can’t go out and meet someone so your dating and social life decline as well. And as a formerly overweight person, I know how this sucks.

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    This is just one example of how a keystone habit creates a ripple effect which creates change in every sphere of our lives. So we better open our eyes and make sure that we use the power of the keystone habits for bettering our life.

    Why Less Is More

    A keystone habit is about one thing and, the one thing only which you do to radically improve your life. And a lot of people would, at this point, ask what are the best keystone habits to implement in their lives.

    And here is the big truth: Nobody knows and nobody can tell you exactly.

    Everyone is specific and has different things going on for them in their lives, so claiming something is always superior to something else would simply be irresponsible.

    So even though I can’t tell you what to see, I can tell you where to look.

    Every keystone habit can be situated into one of the following four quadrants:

    It’s either a physical habit, intellectual habit, emotional habit or a spiritual habit.

    Any keystone habit I ever encountered which changed the life of someone falls under these 4 categories.

    And the trick is recognizing what kind of habit right would benefit your life the best at this moment. Asking what the best keystone habit has the same effect as asking what the best book in the world is– it depends on who you ask and what your current life situation is.

    If you’re struggling with the meaning of life and want to find hope in this crazy world we live in, I would point you to a great book which recently came out called Everything is F*cked by Mark Mason. If you were a struggling parent of a 10-year old kid who just found out the perils of the internet, I would point you to a security app.

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    You get the point…

    But just because everything is relative, it doesn’t mean that some things aren’t better than other things. War and Peace will always be a great book no matter if it currently befits you to read it. And the same thing can be applied to keystone habits so let’s see what kind of keystone habits fall into the great category.

    Great Keystone Habits

    I have already mentioned how all keystone habits fall into one of the four categories: physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. So the following keystone habits will fall into one (or more) of these buckets.

    But before we proceed into the habits, know this.

    What got you here, won’t get you there.

    So if you already have a keystone habit which you implemented for quite a while now and you think it’s no longer working, you are probably right. We need certain things at certain times of development, but we need to let them go later on to grow to new levels. So use the habits to better your life, but don’t worship any one of them for your entire life.

    Physical Domain

    When it comes to great keystone habits in the physical domain, they all fall into two buckets:

    • Exercise
    • Food

    These two are the pinnacle of the physical domain when it comes to keystone habits. I don’t even have to tell you all the ways exercise helps you in your life.

    From better hormonal regulation, to energy levels, to looking better, to feeling more confident, to increasing your lifespan and the quality of your life, a keystone habit of exercising is one whose effects you will feel fast.

    When it comes to food, it’s literally the building block of your life’s energy. If you eat garbage, you will feel like garbage–garbage in, garbage out. And your energy levels are one of the most important factors you need to regulate in your life if you want to achieve anything.

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    None of your dreams will ever come true if you eat a massive bag of chips every single day, which makes you drowsy and lifeless no matter how much ambition you have.

    But the physical domain is just one of the four domains so let’s jump to the next one.

    Intellectual Domain

    There are many great intellectual keystone habits we can pursue, but I will just name a couple of them which most of you who read the article will find relevant:

    • Reading Books
    • Writing (columns, articles, personal blog or diary)
    • Learning new languages
    • Learning a new skill set (copywriting, coaching, cooking…)
    • Teaching your skillset or your life experiences

    All of these have their own benefits and can massively improve your life and the life of people around you. When you, for example, learn a new language, you don’t just learn a new language, you learn a completely new way of thinking and form unique connections in your mind.

    But we don’t stop here, we have two more domains to cover.

    Emotional Domain

    This is a difficult one because, for one, it’s really hard to measure it in any quantitive way. You can’t just call your wife every single day and think that by doing just that, you are a good husband. It doesn’t work like that.

    I wrote about the problems of measuring emotional habits before and I won’t go in-depth about it here, but I will just mention that measuring these kinds of habits requires your and yours only subjective analyses. It’s like giving yourself a daily score of 1-10 on the question of “Did I do my best to be a great husband today?”

    The keystone habits of the emotional domain are one of the most complex and difficult ones to pull off because they require most people to change things they do in relation to other people.

    If you want to be more sincere and honest in your emotional responses, that means that you will have to make some people angry by doing that. It can be a difficult conversation you need to have with your spouse or with your friends, maybe a disagreement with your peers and colleagues, or a deep look within yourself with an honest look about your actions and mistakes.

    Emotional domain keystone habits improve your life in any stage, but since they make us do uncomfortable things, they are the last ones we pursue.

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    Some of the examples would be:

    • Telling yourself that you are the only one who is responsible for your emotions and keeping that standard
    • Calling out passive-aggressive in people
    • Speaking your mind even though you know it will bring disagreement
    • Dealing with your own problems first before pointing fingers
    • Asking for feedback constantly, both positive and negative ones
    • Deciding to be vulnerable even though it means risking being hurt

    The things I wrote above are probably the most difficult things you can ask someone to do, but they are also the most rewarding things you can do in your life. If you want to achieve greatness, you need to be willing to dare greatly.

    And last, but not least, are the keystone habits of the spiritual domain.

    Spiritual Domain

    The keystone habits of the spiritual domain are our connection with things which in our lives that have a higher purpose than just ourselves. This is the place where feel the connection with our communities, with Higher Beings, with God or Emptiness or whatever you want to call it.

    The spiritual domain is the strongest as a guiding force in life and some of the keystone habits of this domain include:

    • Finding your life’s purpose
    • Living your vision of life
    • Sacrificing yourself for the achievement of something bigger than you
    • Nurturing your inner voice and connection with the Spirit

    To some readers, this might seem like woo-woo, but I can assure that it isn’t. This is about the spiritual dimension of every individual and if you disregard it, you will annulate a part of you which will become a problem.

    The Western world currently faces a major spiritual crisis where people feel disconnected with anything in their lives which has a higher purpose than themselves. That’s why people are miserable even though they lead an “objectively” rich life where they appear to have everything but still feel like happiness is not in their lives.

    If you read all the way up to here, you found at least one keystone habit which can help you right now in your life.

    All that is left now is to implement it. As the famous adage goes:

    “Knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing.”

    Now you know, it’s time to do.

    More About Habits

    Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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