A guest blog by Patrick Mazzariol and Tricia Underwood.
The most important asset to an organization is the people making employee retention a critical element of the organization. An employee’s reason for leaving their company may not be what you suspect: more money, a better title or a new career opportunity. In fact, when one million people were polled by Gallop in 2008, 82 percent responded, stating that, “I left my manager not the company.” The same poll found that there is a high correlation between employee satisfaction and performance, and an even higher correlation between leadership practices and employee satisfaction. A manager’s leadership skills have greater influence on employee fulfillment at work that most companies are willing to recognize. Companies must take an active role to build key leadership qualities and environments, less face the revolving door of employee turnover and a weaker organization.
Develop self-awareness to connect with people
Self-awareness is the foundational element for connecting with other.
“The first task in management has nothing to do with leading others, step one poses the challenge of knowing and managing one self. That includes connecting with the deep values that guide us, imbuing our actions with meaning” (McKee, 2005).
This self-engagement allows us to align our emotions with our goals in order to create motivation as well as maintain composure and focus. Emotions are contagious, creating a cascading effect with others. As such, leaders of large organizations can impact an entire company.
Successful leaders are consciously attuned to people, directing focus on a common cause, building a sense of community, and creating a climate that unleashes peoples’ passion, energy, and unified spirit. They invest their time for the benefit of the team and link their success to that of the team.
During the last five years the business community has been badly damaged by the fallout when leaders failed to embody transparency resulting in drastic arrogant self-absorption. Hence, leaders must consciously manage the cycle of sacrifice and renewal – striking a balance between mindfulness, hope and compassion while remaining in tune with self and their environment.
Trust is difficult to achieve and maintain in a complex and rapidly changing world but it is an essential element for the smooth functioning of your organization. It starts by demonstrating decisiveness and compassion. When leaders are unwilling to make hard decisions or to hold people accountable their team may feel unprotected, vulnerable, and betrayed. When people trust you, you are able to encourage thoughtful risk-taking and the team will begin to accept challenges. In our current economic atmosphere we see much risk aversion, leaving risk-taking to the upper echelons of organizations due to employee’s fear of failure. With trust, leaders create organizational efficiencies, teams smarter than them, ready to execute and sustainable performance. By broadening the impact of your leadership, geography is no longer a constraint.
Create a culture focused on learning
Leaders need to build transferrable knowledge and should be actively involved in developing their people to be the best they can be, offering mentorship and getting them in the boat rowing in the same direction. By setting the pace and tone, and unleashing people’s talent, the organization will pull ahead of the competition, cross the finish line and end up on the medal stand!
Learning from the past is not enough. “Whoever does not understand history is doomed to repeat it”. Bert Frydman shares this great comment in his book “The Power of Collaborative Leadership.” Repeating yesterday’s errors is not likely to produce tomorrow’s successes. While true, learning from the past should be complemented with a focus on routine training. Professional football players train six times a week or more, to reinforce skills and improve techniques – which leads to an increased probability to win. How often do you train your business team? One time per day? One time per week? One time per month? One time per year?
Organizations that attract and retain the best and brightest are committed to professional development. They provide opportunities for their employees to learn and grow. They regularly coach and provide feedback to their people on how they are doing so they know where to focus their improvement efforts. They also take the time to catch people in the act of doing things right, and provide recognition for a job well done. If you want to attract the right people and retain star performers, it’s important to recognize that your people are your most valuable asset, to instill obsession for training.
Employee engagement is essential for success in our challenging modern business environment – it’s all about people. Leadership is an amazing skill. Having the right people in the bus is not enough, you have to retain and train them and inspire them. Leadership contributes to bring change, empower people, and lead a culture of excellence. People want to see a leader as representing the general mission, with a long-term view. Now it is your turn to connect and contribute to retain the key assets of your company. With the uniqueness of your business model, values, and right level of leadership you will be perfectly prepared for sustainable success, and to inverse the poll made by Gallop.