What Employees Want

I hope, particularly if you’re in a leadership position, that you don’t learn a thing from this post. That’s because you should already know everything in this post. It would be best if you learned it from the people you lead. It would be better than best if you learned it by asking them directly. 

But in case none of that is true, here we go. 

It’s a given that your people want a fair wage and decent benefits. When you determine what you can pay them it’s likely you do so based on what you can afford. They determine what they should be paid based on what they think is fair. You’ll likely have to meet in the middle but know that if you don’t you’ll have motivation and turnover issues galore. 

What you may not realize is that money alone is a pretty poor motivator. Once a person’s basic needs are met money becomes a “nice to have” not a “must have.”

More important than money is a future in the organization. The more defined that future is the better. Many people, especially people in the younger demographic groups, have left their companies during the Great Resignation precisely because they couldn’t see a future with their current companies. If you want engaged and committed employees then work with them to chart out potential opportunities for them within your organization. 

While employees may not go the extra mile for mere money they will give you extraordinary effort in return for earned recognition. The expectation of recognition on the part of employees who have earned it does not make them divas, it makes them human. 

Organizations with enthusiastically committed employees have systems in place to make recognition intentional. Haphazard recognition can be as bad as no recognition, especially for the unlucky individual who earned it and didn’t receive it. Don’t allow recognition to be a matter of luck in your organization. Be consistent in giving recognition and your people will be consistent in responding. 

Everyone needs to matter and everyone needs to know that they matter. The most effective way to show your employees that they matter is to listen to them. They have opinions and ideas about the organization and how it could be better. LISTEN to them. When employees determine that their voices aren’t being heard they disengage. If you want disengaged employees give them a check and ignore them. But don’t blame them, their lack of engagement is on you for failing to show them that they matter. 

They simple act of listening, really listening, to what your employees tell you is also a sign of respect, which is another thing employees crave. 

Finally, the big one. Employees want to know how they are doing. They want to know it more than once a year. They want to be crystal clear on exactly what is expected of them and how those expectations will be measured. Not knowing what is expected of them is the number one reason people give for being frustrated with their organizations. Most say they would rather be told they are performing poorly than being left to wonder what their boss thinks of their performance. 

I hope you knew all that already. But knowing and doing are two different things. It’s good to know what your people want, but you must provide it to them if you hope to have the kind of people who will help your organization grow. 

So they question isn’t did you know this stuff, the question is are you providing this stuff. 

Answer honestly or there’s no need to answer at all! 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

Company Culture Matters…More Than Ever

It seems more apparent as time goes on that the Great Resignation is more the Great Job Hop. Some people are indeed leaving the work force but most of the resignations are just people looking for something better. And “better” does not necessarily mean more money.

I’ve heard from a striking number of people in just the last 30 days that the reason they have left their current job is poor culture at their employer. They all have different definitions of what culture means to them but there are some common threads. 

People understand their organization’s need for increased profitability. What they don’t understand is why it seems to come at their expense. As companies report some really good earnings those increased earnings don’t seem to be reflected in their paychecks. They are willing to make whatever sacrifices are needed to help the company. But when the company’s top earners receive salary increases multiple times what theirs are they see a culture problem.

As companies chase the almighty dollar they would be wise to not do it on the backs of the people who create, sell and service the products that bring those dollars in. 

Companies need to keep foremost in their mind that regardless of what they build, sell or service they are primarily in the people business. Failure to demonstrate that they understand that fact on a regular basis will cause people to believe that they don’t understand it at all.

When an organization’s leadership team is disconnected from their employees the employees see a culture problem. When the leadership team tells themselves that culture survey results are wrong then it’s the leadership team who is creating the culture problem.

But here’s the thing, culture surveys can be wrong. In fact, I’d say they are often wrong. I think they seldom reflect the actual “mood” of the organization.

Virtually every person who I’ve talked to over the last 30 days said that they left their job because the company they worked at didn’t care about the employees anymore. Many said their companies only cared about the bottom line. They also said they would never say that in a culture survey in case they “had” to stay working there. But interestingly, they also said they wouldn’t say that in an exit interview because they viewed that as burning bridges.

That makes it imperative that an organization’s leadership team stay connected to their people. Regular one on one communication can provide a clear view of people’s thoughts, feelings and motivations. No survey can replace even a short “off the cuff” conversation if a leader is really interested in what their people are thinking. 

It appears however in these days of the Great Resignation that whether leaders are actually interested in what their people think is a mighty big if. 

The late business management guru, Peter Drucker, is quoted as saying that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He may have been right in his time but today that is an incomplete statement. Today that quote should say “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Because today, the culture of an organization has never mattered more.

Are Your Key Employees a Flight Risk?

For the past several years I’ve been trying to alert leaders to an impending existential threat to their organizations. I no longer feel the need to do that because it’s no longer impending. The danger is upon us and if you still don’t know what it is then frankly there is little long-term hope for your organization. 

 

Hopefully you’re at least in the group who has the feeling that it’s harder to find people than it used to be…what you need to know is that it’s not just a feeling, it’s a very serious threat to the very existence of your business or organization.

 

The threat I’m talking about of course is the significant shrinking of the available workforce. Upwards of 10,000 Baby Boomers a day reach retirement age and they are being replaced by a much much smaller number of millennials. Even with the Centennials, iGen, Generation Z or whatever you want to call them joining the workforce very soon it won’t be enough to replace all the retiring boomers. 

 

With all due respect (if they still deserve respect) to the politicians who are claiming credit for the near historic low unemployment rate in the United States it has little or nothing to do with their efforts. It’s all about demographics.

 

The math is simply and it does not lie. 

 

One of the worst mistakes a leader can make today is to assume that their key people are not vulnerable to offers from other organizations simply because they provide a fair wage and a good work environment. 

 

Everybody, I repeat everybody, wants something and if you’re not working diligently to provide your people what they want then rest assured some other organization will. 

 

I could go through a long list of what your people might want but “might” doesn’t get it done. You need to know precisely what each of your people want and you need to know it before they are offered it by someone else. 

 

That’s why I’m such a proponent of “stay interviews.” Conducting an exit interview to discover why you’re people are leaving is of little use when compared to conducting a “stay interview” to determine how you can keep them. 

 

Sometimes when asked in a “stay interview” your people may say that “everything is fine” or that they don’t really know what they want. If that’s the case then it’s your job as a leader to help them discover what it is that they want, what it is that will help them stay motivated to remain a part of your organization. Then it’s your job as a leader to deliver it to them if it’s at all possible.

 

I absolutely promise you that if you don’t do that someone else eventually will and it’s getting more likely that it will be sooner rather than later.

 

The number of small businesses closing their doors or hanging on by a thread due to lack of an available workforce is beginning to grow. It is already spreading to larger organizations. If you’re in business then you’re in the people business. If you’re in the people business then you’re going to need to fight for your piece of a shrinking workforce. 

 

The fight begins by not losing the people you currently have. 

 

I truly do not have the vocabulary or writing skills to convey how serious an issue this is becoming for all businesses and organizations. The demographics are just crystal clear!

 

There are a limited number of larger companies who had the vision and forethought to get out in front of this threat and develop programs to retain their people and even recruit new ones. While that’s good for them it makes the situation even more critical for those organizations behind the curve. 

 

The answer to the question that makes up the title of this post is YES! Your key employees are a flight risk. Even if they are not looking to leave there is another organization out there who will try to entice them to do just that. You need to covet them as much or more than the organizations that don’t have them….yet.


Oh, one more thing before we close this out…. if you have an employee who isn’t key to your organization then what the heck are they doing working for you?

What Exit Interviews Miss

ExitLet’s begin with full disclosure on my part; I’ve never been on either side of an exit interview. I’ve had very few jobs so there has been little opportunity for me to provide my own feedback and I’ve never had anyone who worked for me quit. I have never in my life sat on either side of an exit interview desk.

But I’ve seen the results of many exit interviews and virtually every single one of them had the same thing in common; they said, if the words of the departing employee, why they were leaving.

Most companies do not know the reasons why employees stay or the actual reasons why they leave. They sort of attempt to figure out the later with an exit interview but exit interviews almost never differentiate between factors that make the new job attractive to the departing employee, and the reasons why the employee was prompted to consider leaving his or her current job in the first place.

For example, many employees report “better compensation” as one of their main reasons for leaving. Research revealed that these same employees were not, in fact, originally unhappy with their compensation. Instead, other reasons caused them to consider leaving their current job, such as lack of advancement opportunities or a feeling of being taken for granted.

Because of this situation, information from exit interviews often fail to reveal the actual causes of a company’s key employees.

The job market continues to pick up around the U.S. and companies can lose employees even when the employee isn’t looking to change jobs. If you’re not yet aware of this then consider this post a wake-up call – you’re best employees either are or soon will be recruited by other companies.

Most of your key employees will turn down recruiters right up until the one time that they don’t. What causes the change that makes someone act on a recruiter’s call at a particular point in time? That’s what you had better be searching for in your next exit interview.

Something changed, something in their work situation deteriorated to the point that they were vulnerable to an offer from another company. If you don’t know what deteriorated then you will not be able to fix it. If you do not fix it then it will happen again. When it happens again you will lose another key employee.

It’s a pretty darn good time to be looking for work, it’s so good that your employees can find another job when they are not even looking for one. It’s a terrible time to have issues in your organization that would give your best employees a reason to leave because they now have ample opportunity to leave.

The answers you need to keep your top performers can come from asking the right questions in an exit interview. Instead of asking only “why are you leaving?” perhaps try asking “what could have made you stay?”

You may not like the answers but if use the information to build a stronger organization you most certainly will like the end result.