Five Sure-Fire Ways to Drive Good Employees Away
By: Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE
With the pending severe worker drain prompted by boomers in full
or partial retirement, keeping good employees has never been more critical.
The most significant word in retention, however, is "engagement". Too many
workers are present but their imagination, spirit and creativity have
departed out the door with disillusion.
Consider these top five actions that pull the plug on employee energy:
1. Be a know-it-all and discount the input of others.
A new senior level manager was brought into an organization. When
department heads met with him, he proclaimed "lower cost, higher quality,
more sales". He asked for their input and then immediately dismissed
whatever they said. The fact that he had never worked in this particular
industry had already prompted skepticism. The department heads, whose
support and knowledge are critical for a turnaround, have departed in
droves while those who are staying just shrug their shoulders and say
they'll hunker down until they find something else.
2. Never admit mistakes.
The worn phrase from the old movie Love Story proclaimed, "Loves means
never having to say you're sorry." As wrong as that advice is for intimate
relationships, it is just as stupid in business. When ego and arrogance
replace the realities of a decision, employees watch in dismay. The
operating plan becomes mired in finding ways to justify action rather than
admitting error and looking for a new, more promising direction. The cost
overruns on building a large golf course were huge because the senior
manager refused the input of his department heads and then spent thousands
trying to cover up design flaws.
3. Act first and think later.
The ready, fire, aim approach of shoot-from-the-hip-and-think-later is all
too common in our 24/7, do-it-now world. The results can be disastrous -
particularly if the vehicle for action is e-mail. E-mail now stands for
escalation and error. The person who blasts off a response without
carefully considering the tone and the names on the distribution list can
find himself spending time and energy undoing collateral damage. The more
critical the relationship and/or the outcome of the action, the greater
wisdom is in carefully measured actions and more likely than not,
4. Create an inner circle that thinks alike.
Howell Raines, executive editor of the NY TIMES, was the subject of a
17,000-word article that appeared in the NEW YORKER in June 6, 2002. It was
a brutal expose, painting a documented story of him as an arrogant bully
who played favorites, listened only to a few people and pummeled far too
many. When folks outside of his inner circle tried to tell him their
concerns regarding Jayson Blair, the now infamous fabricator of new
stories, Raines ignored them. His resignation from the NY TIMES speaks to
the danger of that inner circle.
The higher the stakes, the more critical it is to have input from people
with various points of view and different ways of responding to a
situation. If a CEO puts people around her who merely parrot her beliefs,
the organization is being led by lemmings. And if the inner circle is of a
ready-fire-aim mentality, there's no caution in action. If the inner
circle mirrors a slow, all-the-facts-first mentality, the organization
might miss critical opportunities and be too slow to respond to a changing
marketplace. Organizations should consider using assessments in order to
understand the behavioral diversity of the team.
5. Say one thing and do another.
A high-tech manufacturing company in Southern California announced
significant layoffs because of poor performance. Every budget item was to
be scrutinized. The following weekend, the CEO took the top management team
away to the Ritz Carlton in Monarch Beach so they could ponder these new
realities. Care to guess how fast the employees got wind of this
"cost-saving" move? Or how about the professional services firm that
proclaimed mandatory attendance and then repeatedly ignored a senior
consultant who only showed up when he "felt like it".
If you want to model truth and trust, ask the people around you how often
you engage in these behaviors. And if you are not happy with the answers,
DO something different. You might also need to bring in an external coach
to help you with the process. The results: you win and the organization wins.
© 2006, McDargh Communications. All rights reserved. Reprints are welcomed so long as the article and by-line remain intact and all links are made live.
Eileen McDargh's wisdom, good humor, and contagious energy helps individuals and organizations create great work and satisfying relationships. Eileen recommends online assessments that determines the strengths and weaknesses of individuals while giving insight into what new viewpoints need to be added to the team. More information about Eileen is available at http://www.EileenMcDargh.com