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Last Updated on January 30, 2018

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 November 14, 2018

    Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out

    Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out

    Do you find yourself constantly feeling busy? Or, maybe you feel like you have too much on your plate? Perhaps you have a to-do list with no end in sight, or many responsibilities to juggle on a daily basis at work. When you get home, you have household responsibilities to take care of, too, and it just seems like you never have much time for a breather.

    Being busy is good, it’s better than not having anything to do and letting time slip away. But, what many people don’t realize is, being busy doesn’t always mean you’re being productive. The more time you take to complete something does not equal to more success. Many people end up falling into this trap as they pack their day with tasks and errands that may sometimes produce little outcome or output for the effort that they’ve put in.

    For example, let’s say that your washing machine at home broke down and you need to fix it. Instead of calling the handyman to come, your husband decides he’s going to fix the machine. He ends up spending half a day figuring out the machine, and does eventually fix it. He did however have to make a trip to the tool shop to buy some extra tools and parts for the machine. Now, if you had called the handy man, it would probably have taken the handyman much less time, and he would have all the necessary tools and parts already, because that is his job. So in this instance, was your husband’s time and effort worth it? Oh, and because he took half the day fixing the machine, you now had to take over his duties of dropping the kids off at soccer and swim practice.

    We Need Not Be That Busy

    I hope you would agree, that it would have been ideal to delegate this task to the handyman. That would have saved you time and effort, so that you and your husband could focus on doing other things that were more important to you, like being there for your kids or spending time with each other. This is just one example of how we often impose busyness on ourselves without us even realizing it.

    But, I’m going to show you just how you can gain quality time from external sources. Whatever big goals or ambitions that you may have, it’s normal for them to involve a lot more of your time than you first expect. I’m talking about things like starting a new business, changing careers, perhaps even moving to a new city. New challenges often involve things that are outside of our experience and expertise, so covering all the bases ourselves is sometimes not feasible as it takes too much time to learn and do everything.

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    You Are Just One Person

    At the end of the day, you are just one person, and you have a limited amount of time. So, you have to do things that are meaningful to you. While an overall goal may be meaningful, not all of the milestones needed to get there may be meaningful. Because we all have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, not every task will be enjoyable or all fun & games. Some simply require pure willpower and discipline to grind through. And that is where delegation comes in.

    What is Delegation?

    You may hear this term a lot in the business or corporate world; it’s an effective way for managers to distribute (or sometimes avoid!) work. But, that’s not what I’m referring to. Instead, delegation means leveraging time from an outside source to give you opportunities to increase your quality time. By outside source, we simply mean that it’s not your own time that you’re spending.

    What Should You Delegate?

    To delegate effectively, it has to be done with deliberate intention. So the aim of delegation is to create more quality time for yourself. There are 3 types of tasks that you should generally delegate, called the Delegation Triangle.

    The first are tasks you don’t enjoy doing. These are things that you know how to do, but don’t enjoy. Second, are tasks you shouldn’t do. These are things you know how to do and may even enjoy, but may not be the best use of your time. Third, are tasks you can’t do. These are things that need doing, but you don’t have the skills or expertise to follow through with them at this moment.

    Have a look through your daily tasks and responsibilities, and see if you can fit them under these 3 categories.

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    Pitfalls of Delegation

    Using the Delegation Triangle, you can decide which tasks are worth delegating. In theory, it might look easy to sort actions at first glance; but often, it’s actually harder than you think! 

    One such example, is diverting time on tasks you shouldn’t do. Let’s go back to the washing machine example. Your husband decides to fix it on his own instead of simply getting an expert to fix it. Why? Because it’s probably a challenge he enjoys, and it’s an accomplishment that would bring him satisfaction. However, if the value of the task is too low, you really ought to delegate it to others.

    Sometimes, when you have a larger goal in mind, you might have to sacrifice some actions in return for making progress. Always think about the bigger picture! One thing that can help you avoid this pitfall is to keep your deadlines in mind whenever you set milestones for a project or task.

    Deadlines are a commitment to yourself, and every bit of time is precious. So if an activity you’re focusing on is taking time away from progress towards your goal, it may be time to let go of it for now. You can always decide to pick it up again later.

    Then there’s the other extreme of delegation. And that’s when you start delegating everything you dislike doing to external sources.Sometimes it’s tempting to abuse delegation and get carried away outsourcing everything on your “don’t like doing” list.

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    Some people are too picky on what they’re going to do. But sometimes, if you don’t like doing so but you’re the only one who can do it, you still need to finish the job. At the end of the day, it does take your own hard work and effort to achieve the success you want.

    So if you find that you’re constantly running into this problem of over delegating, then it may be time to re-evaluate your motivation, or reason for doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

    Ask yourself, “Is this task contributing towards a meaningful objective that I want to achieve?” and “what kind of progress do I make each time I carry out the task myself?” If the task is both meaningful and creates progress, then the next step is to ask yourself questions that can help you create actions.

    What obstacles are causing you to avoid this task? Is it because of low confidence in your ability? Do you think someone else can do a better job? Is it your level of focus? Or is there an alternative action you can take that can produce the same results?

    Take Action Now

    Take a look at your current tasks or to-do’s that you have planned this week. Which tasks are possible candidates that fall under the Delegation Triangle? Are there any that fall under the pitfalls mentioned above? Which tasks can you immediately identify that should be delegated out right now?

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    I hope this exercise helps declutter your tasks and responsibilities a little and allows you to see how much more time you can be saving for more important things. But, this is not the end of delegation. After you’ve sorted out the tasks that can be delegated, the next step is to determine who it should be delegated to. Besides people like your co workers, or spouse/family members, did you know that there is a whole delegating industry out there?

    If you’re keen to learn more about this delegating industry, and find out how you can decide who’s the best fit to do your delegated tasks, subscribe to our newsletter today. We will help you discover many more skills that will boost your productivity by leaps and bounds!

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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