Okay, Managers, How Do You Keep Good Employees?

managers, keep good employees, stay interviews, performance coachingWhile you may be reading news articles reporting how many jobs were created in your region of the world, it is often interesting to see if this is a localized event or something bigger. According to a 2013 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, global trends point to positive growth but survey after survey of employee engagement still report dismal numbers.

So, what’s a manager to do with the new and existing employees?

We have discussed employee engagement before on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz but we usually look at it from the employee’s perspective. But there are certain challenges for managers. There is plenty of advice to be more authentic and to act as more of a facilitator of people’s talents and personalities. There are many workplace trends that affect the nature of management. And yet, the basics tasks of management haven’t changed. Managers are still expected to plan, organize, coordinate, encourage, provide and monitor their staff. The methods may change over time but not the essential job.

But aren’t the methods really at the nub of finding and keeping good employees?

This is where the 21st workplace is something of a crucible for managers. Leaders may navigate the company as a whole through the turbulence left in the wake of the Great Recession, rapid technological changes and other factors but managers are the ones who are making sure the actual work gets done. There is always a search for more effective or efficient ways to identify the “right” employee or process that support meeting the business goals. It might be stack ranking or some other talent management system. It may even be the never-ending search for the best project management or productivity tools. But all of these tools cannot replace the most basic of managerial skills –the ability to relate and communicate. These skills are what are cited time and again in employee engagement surveys.

Two possible avenues to support managers engaging with their employees better

Keeping top-notch employees is certainly a goal for any manager. One avenue is to conduct “stay interviews.” Rather than waiting for the exit interview to find out what one of your star employees did not like, stay interviews are one-on-one conversations reviewing the employee’s career goals, rating current performance and possible action steps to maintain (or increase) the employee’s engagement.

Another avenue is to adding performance coaching skills. In a previous career, I supervised mental health clinicians and found that facilitating their learning and insight both helped them provide better therapy but it also helped me know where their blind spots were and what kinds of clients they were best suited for. According to Josh Patrick, this process is far superior to performance reviews since performance coaching conversations could be on-going brief meetings and formalizes what managers are already doing when they check in with employees regarding assigned projects.

What do you think? What tools or behaviors can a manager use to keep good employees engaged? Join us Friday, February 14, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to discuss how managers can keep good employees on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz 

What types of skills are most necessary for managing employees well?

To what degree do we act as if planning, organizing, coordinating and monitoring is not connected to the quality of the relationship between managers and direct reports?

What current management trends are getting in the way of facilitating employees’ performance?

Along with stay interviews and performance coaching, what other things can managers do to keep good employees?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, executive coach, trainer and international expansion consultant, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.





Will Current Employee Engagement Trends Continue Into Next Year?

employee engagement, organizationsThere is a scene from the movie, “Office Space” where a co-worker asks Peter if he has a case of the Mondays. If you have ever seen the movie, you know that Peter is far from engaged in his work. In real life, it isn’t exactly news that productivity depends on employee engagement either.

Some companies get it right

There are probably a large number of companies who have engaged employees but we tend to see more examples such as shown in the comic, Dilbert Two examples that have been highlighted in the news are Diamond Pet Foods in the US and Dah Sing Banking Group Limited in Hong Kong.

The Diamond Pet Group, featured in this Inc article,  enable higher levels of employee engagement because they believe in ROB (return on benefits). Their health insurance is paid for, emergency leave is granted without questions as well as receiving bonuses and profit sharing. Their pay is not substantially better but the benefits are. According to the example set by Diamond Pet Group, employees who aren’t worrying about their insurance costs or other financial concerns are more likely to stay longer with the company, offer ideas about how the company could operate better and maintain higher productivity levels.

In the case of Dah Sing Banking Group Limited, they were recognized by The Best Practice Management Group and received  “The Best Practice Award 2013 in Employee Engagement.” They believe that providing an environment where the employees are stakeholders and participants in strategy formation, implementation, accepting responsibility for their behavior and emphasizing alignment, transparency and communication.

Current global employee engagement trends

An interesting study by Aon Hewitt which looked at employee engagement around the world from 2008 to 2010. They surveyed 6.7 million employees in 2, 900 organizations. Overall there is a mixed picture geographically. Employee engagement is down in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific and yet no change in Latin America. Globally, employee engagement is beginning to improve and as was noted in the report,

While organizations acknowledge the power of engagement, many struggle to make progress in this area. Our research shows that employee loyalty and engagement is waning, especially in Europe. At a time when organizations are looking to employees to help them reduce costs, identify areas for growth, streamline processes, and innovate faster than their competitors, employees in many organizations are showing fatigue in response to the lengthy period of stress, uncertainty, and confusion of the economic downturn.
As long as employers do not offer (or offer on a limited basis) professional development or career opportunities, there is little to motivate employees from re-engaging or engaging more deeply.

Some of the current trends being noted in research by both Aon Hewitt, McKinsey and Company and BlessingWhite:

1. Career opportunities
2. Constant distraction and demanding workloads
3. Financial rewards matter
4. It helps if you are higher up in the organization
5. Companies with higher profits have better levels of engagement
6. Millenials are moving into leadership positions
7. Remote work is becoming norm
8. Intrapreneurship is encouraged to spur innovation
9. Women are gaining momentum

Employee engagement is an ongoing process of change and adaptation

The goals of attracting and retaining talent haven’t changed. However, employees are looking for more. As we’ve discussed on #KaizenBiz before, work and lifestyle choices are being integrated more frequently as the people are connected via smartphones and other devices. This changes how employees engage and what they want to make the engagement more enticing. Even employees with lower level positions are looking for their organizations to invest in them as well.

Do you have some thoughts on employee engagement? What are the trends telling us? Join us on Twitter and use the hastag #KaizenBiz to join the conversation on Friday, November 23, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT.

How is employee engagement defined by different generations?

What 2013 employee engagement trends will continue into 2014?

What do these trends have in common?

In real terms, how do you link employee engagement with accomplishing an organization’s business goals?

How could redefining management as facilitation rather than order-giver affect levels of employee engagement?