The success of an organization can be attributed to many things but without a doubt the employee is right up near the top of that list. Employees play a huge role in the success and failure of an organization because beyond production value they are also likely to be establishing more contact with clients or customers. A positive contact translates into increased awareness, additional opportunities and dollars.
A recurring topic of conversation I have with people is about workplace culture. Former and existing employees, colleagues and clients share that despite a willingness to develop their careers the challenges faced while attending work often has them re-evaluating their value and questioning their professional future. It is a sad fact that many businesses lose very talented staff because they do not keep their eyes on the prize.
I believe there are three key retention strategies to help employees:
- Job Orientation
- Effective Management
Job orientation helps clarify policies, procedures and expectations. Each of these are integral to ones understanding of a workplace and assists with matters of safety, structure or responding to challenges. It is truly unrealistic to believe anyone can work effectively without proper orientation. The person who is negatively impacted the most is the new or transitioning employee. Feelings of insecurity and an inability to be decisive in situations is not uncommon but could be avoided with a proper introduction.
Mentoring through a senior staff person can help any employee to rise up and feel like they can be successful in their position. They can see the potential for growth and become aware of unknown talents. Mentorship also serves as an introduction to the unofficial side of an organization. When employees feel supported by their colleagues and know their “back is covered” it makes for a much more harmonious work environment. I had the privilege of having an assistant manager early in my career that acted as a mentor and her influence shaped the woman I became professionally and personally. She made a difficult job a rewarding experience.
Effective management could be described as two words at odds with each other. I’m sure there are many managers out there that have days when they feel that way. With pressure coming from all sides and policies that may be established by people who have little understanding of day-to-day operations, it is a challenging position. However, successful managers learn to work within constraints and still maintain the respect of their employees.
I have experienced managers that are like bulls in a china shop and whose arrogance hinders their ability to gain support from their colleagues. I have also worked with managers who are genuine and open. They trust their employees, listen and never badmouth anyone. They are not friends but true colleagues. A good manager builds their own emotional intelligence so that they can better support the team. It is like placing the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others.
The employee that displays a keen interest in the needs of her/his position, clients and colleagues might extend themselves in a way that is not to be difficult but comes from a desire to do better and be better. It is so important for managers to recognize that distinction.
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink and that is also true for employees. Employee retention is not easy but successful organizations implement strategies and realize the impression a manager leaves makes a huge difference.