Imagine this scenario:
You walk into work on Monday morning. Your boss comes to see you, and he says this: “I want to meet in five minutes to discuss the career goals of every member of your team. Oh, and one more thing. If you don’t know what they are, you’re fired.”
What would your reaction be?
Turnover is almost impossible to prevent 100% of the time, despite the latest and greatest retention techniques and tools. It’s always tragic when a supervisor loses a key player on their team. However, it’s the reason behind the loss that can turn a tragedy into a catastrophe.
Not knowing your employees’ career goals and ambitions and not helping them to achieve those goals and ambitions should never be a reason that a key member of your team leaves to go to another company.
It all comes down to what you can influence and what you can’t. There are some reasons an employee leaves that you have no influence over—say, they move to the other side of the country to care for an elderly parent. But you can and should have a direct influence over how an employee perceives their position with your company as an avenue to reach their goals.
This is an effective retention technique, but one that requires you to be pro-active. More than likely, employees aren’t just going to come into your office and start gushing about their long-range career goals. For one, they probably don’t know how you’ll react. It’s your job to break the ice and get to the heart of the matter. It’ll be better for both of you in the long run.
The old adage that you’ll never know until you ask is certainly true in this instance. And the information you gain by asking is crucial to the retention process. Not only that, the fact that you’re asking your team members about their goals will help to cultivate loyalty with those employees, simply because you’re showing that you value them and their careers and that you’re interested in investing in their future. And the more loyal they are, the less likely they’ll leave.
So here’s your assignment: meet with every member of your team individually. Broach the subject of their career and the goals they’ve set for themselves. Brainstorm ways that the company can help them to achieve those goals. Make sure that the employee is fully participating in the process, and make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm. If you’re excited about how the company can help them, then they’ll be excited about how the company can help them. Remember, non-excited employees become former employees.
If possible, set a concrete plan of action. For example, perhaps the employee would benefit from additional or different duties, ones that more accurately fit their plans but would still benefit the company. You’re only limited by your imagination, and since the employee is fully vested in the process, ideas should be plentiful. (So long as you create an environment that’s conducive to sharing, that is.)
Retaining key employees becomes easier when you identify what they really want, and one thing they want is to know that the company they work for considers them valuable enough to invest in—now and in the future. Don’t let a golden opportunity to increase retention pass you and your company by. Find out as soon as possible what your employees’ plans are—before you find out the hard way.
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