Simple techniques to help managers keep their staff loyalty
A recent report by the CIPD says research is showing that more than 33% of all workers plan to leave their current jobs once the recession is over and the job market picks up. They suggest on average the costs of replacing and training a new recruit are: £6,125 or around $9000,
This rises to £9000 or around $13,250 for senior managers.
Whew! Don’t know about you, but as a practising manager myself, as well as a trainer and coach for other managers, losing even one good member of staff represents not just forking out a considerable sum of money to advertise, recruit and train any new staff, but a considerable amount of time and hassle for me, whilst I try to keep my eyes on the ball in terms of sales and customer satisfaction.
OK, so the recession may have represented an opportunity for you to re-shape the look of your team. Maybe you’ve had the unpleasant job of making some staff redundant, or having to discuss moving them to a different role, which they may, or may not be excited about.
One thing’s for sure: the staff who are left will feel a bit “jittery”. How they feel may well be dependent on how you’ve managed any cuts, and on your relationship with your staff, but it’s highly likely loyalty is probably the last word on their minds, and their level of engagement may have plummeted, with the inevitable dip in performance too.
So how do you, as a manager, keep your team “on-side”, minimise “jitters”, and save yourself the hassle and high costs of losing talented people? Is it possible to have your top performers recognise they are still in the best place and not be tempted by competitor offers?
Whilst you can’t get it right all the time – I believe you can get it right more of the time. Here are three key actions you can take right now, which will have a massive impact on staff morale, motivation and engagement, and which will reduce the likelihood they will leave you first chance they get.
- Get your staff talking!
What do I mean by this? One of the most destructive things for staff motivation and engagement is negative gossip and attitudes. And you can be sure, if you’ve been cutting back lately, if you’ve been changing team structures, if you’ve been making some people redundant, then you’ll have some incredibly fertile ground for negative gossip, negative attitudes and negative behaviours.
The trouble is, in most cases, it’s done behind your back – in the canteen; over the water-cooler, or in the pub after work.
Negative talk breeds negative thinking. It’s contagious. It spreads. Even staff who you really value, who are solid performers and who you’d hate to lose, start to feel the negativity and lose some of their “sparkle” for the job.
You need to channel this energy into something more positive – but how?
You need to give people an opportunity to talk about their concerns and their opinions about what it’s like to work with you out in the open – but in a way which is non-threatening, and constructive.
One simple, quick and non-threatening way to do this is through a team survey – but I don’t mean the complicated surveys some organisations embark upon, where it takes months to set up, weeks to get people to fill in, and more months to get the results!
I mean a “quick and dirty” survey – something you can implement and have results back for within weeks, if not days. Something which just gives you a starting point for a team meeting where you can get people talking. (see below for help choosing a survey)
- Set up a team meeting to discuss the results of your survey!
Make it a priority to pull your team together within 2-4 weeks of the survey results coming in. Set aside at least 90 minutes. If you can, see if you can engage a couple of your team to co-facilitate the meeting with you.Have two flip charts at the ready where you’ve captured the top-line results of:
What we’re doing well What we’re concerned about
Then say you know they completed the survey anonymously, but that you genuinely want to understand more about what people feel about their work, so you’d like someone to start the ball rolling. Ask someone to say if they gave a high score and why. Then ask for people to speak out if they gave any low scores and why.
I guarantee someone will speak up! And once they do, others will follow. Allow time. Reassure your staff this is not about judging; nor about recording any of this formally. This is about understanding that times have been hard recently, and wanting to genuinely look at how we can make things better.
Keep your language to “we”, not “I”. And be prepared to hear stuff which might be critical of you. (How can you give constructive feedback to others if you won’t take any yourself?)
Have your co-facilitators capture some of the main points on blank flip charts.
Tip: Sometimes, once people do start to open up, this could be in danger of becoming a long-winded moaning session! Be clear at the outset you want all the moans out – but you’re allowing a set amount of time – say 20 minutes. Don’t allow people to go on about a specific thing – just encourage them to put the “moan” into one sentence – so you can capture it on the flip chart! This helps keep focus and brevity!
- 3. Agree an action plan!
Now for the most important part. Explain the objective is to make things better for people at work.
Ask them to vote for the issues they feel need addressing first, from the “concerns” flip sheet. Take no more than two “concerns”. Explain if you’re going to make any real progress, it’s no good biting off more than you can chew, and you’ll come back to the other stuff later.
Then, if you’ve a biggish team, of say 6 or more, split them into groups of between 3 and 5. Give each group a “concern” – and ask them to come up with at least 5 actions which might help reduce this “concern”. Allow at least 30 minutes for this – let them go for a coffee; break out into other areas and have some nice buns/fruit or other “goodies” available to “feed” their imaginations!
When time’s up, bring them back together, share the ideas and agree at least one or two actions you will take forward.
Encourage both a team action and individual actions. Have each team member write down one thing they will do differently to help improve that “concern” – and have them share that action with a colleague who will hold them accountable!
Finally, thank them for their honesty and their participation – and agree how you will measure improvements, and when you will meet again.
I promise you, this simple strategy will take up little time but can totally re-energise team morale and employee satisfaction – and will help you build strong working relationships and better staff loyalty.
For more information to help you with the people side of management,
including how to improve employee motivation and get the best out of your team, take a look at these great resources: