We all know at this point we are experiencing a never-before-seen shift in what employees expect from their employers. These changing expectations are especially true for managers. Belonging and connectedness with other people, primarily one’s manager, is one of the most accurate predictors of whether someone stays or decides to leave. You expect them to do their absolute best for you, are you giving them your absolute best?
This is not a “how-to” article or a list of the “top ten things” to make you a better leader. This is a call to action to shift how you think and approach managing your team from a lens of humility. Great leaders are humble. But being humble doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you are willing to admit that you still have things you can learn, it means you can ask for feedback from your team, and it means you never want to stop growing and raising the bar for yourself and ultimately for your team.
It has been proven time and again that top performers do not leave organizations as much as they leave…. poor managers! A top performer who reports to a strong and encouraging leader that brings out the best in them will NOT want to leave. Are you that leader? If so then I encourage you to keep reading as I do have some strategies that can help you retain your best people.
400% Better: The secret of high performers
Author, researcher, and coach Dr. Ruth Gotian says “high performers perform 400% more than the average employee.” Let that sink in. This means the employees you rated as “Exceeds” on their performance review are doing 4x as much work as their colleagues who were rated “Meeting Expectations”. We owe it to them to show up as our best selves and provide the very best employee experience.
Be the example of what you expect. Every day you have an opportunity to show up as the leader with a smile on your face and make sure that you give everyone the same feeling of importance. Create an environment where people feel heard and can contribute.
Motivation & Feedback
Managers often spend time focusing on their underperformers thinking it’s their job to help motivate them to do better. Do not ignore your top performers and think that their level of self-motivation and commitment to excellence is enough and they do not need you. They do! Make it a priority to give them clear and candid feedback about how they are doing and how they can improve.
Purpose & Meaning
Give them a sense of purpose in the work they do. Show them they are important by challenging them, asking more of them, giving them stretch assignments and projects that have clear visibility to higher-ups and key-decision makers.
Make sure your best people feel valued and appreciated by providing timely and meaningful recognition. This is not just about money, which is very important, but often secondary to that sense of pride when you, as their manager, recognize them for great work. This can be as simple as a thank you, an acknowledgment during a team meeting, a call-out on Slack, or special assignments. It’s very important that you understand how someone wants to be recognized as this shows you care about what is important to them.
Autonomy & Flexibility
Workplace flexibility is essential in organizations today and that does not just mean working from home. Where possible, give autonomy when it comes to work schedules, time off, taking breaks, and caregiving leave. Our home lives and work lives are intertwined and finding that balance is necessary for both employers and employees.
We think we are good communicators but in fact we have a lot of work to do in this area. Working in a remote environment has made the mastering of great communication skills imperative to organizational success. A recent Harris poll found that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees and 37% are uncomfortable giving direct and constructive employee performance feedback. What kind of communicator are you? Don’t know? Ask your team.
Leading people, leading teams is a privilege
If all of this feels like work to you, it is but leading others is a privilege, and you have this incredible opportunity to change someone’s life every single day. It’s time to start showing up like it matters to you. Invest in your development, create a team environment where people feel heard, invest in your employee’s development, take the job of being a leader seriously. We need you!
Resource: Coaching for Leaders with Dave Stachowiak podcast, How to Lead and Retain High Performers, February 13, 2022
Alan Collins, Success in HR, https://successinhr.com/newhrleader