Four Techniques To Keep Your Talented People

Author

Pollyanna Pixton

July 18, 2016

Working at on offsite, seven owners of an architecture firm of 100 architects were asked if they thought money motivated people. One spoke out and adamantly said yes. The facilitator paused and responded, “I know you make a significant salary every year. What if I said I would double it but you could never design a building again?” No one in the room would do it. They did agree that it was important people felt they were paid a good wage but there needed other things to keep people from moving to another company.

What things can you do to keep your top talent?

  1. Ownership to Make Decisions and Improvements

At Johnsonville sausage, the managers were doing the tasting of the sausages therefore they owned the control of quality, not the people who made the product. They gave the control to the line workers and they stepped up to the responsibility. The line workers studied “leaking” packages where holes shorted the shelf life and found a solution. The leaking packages went for 5% to 0.5%. The also asked for all customer feedback and answered each one giving free sausages where they thought they were warranted.

Let people own changing the structures and processes to improve performance, effectiveness and efficiencies. Let them figure out how they want to celebrate their successes and what ideas for products they think their customers would love. If there is a problem, get people together and let everyone figure out a way to solve it. Use sticky notes for every idea, put them on the wall, vote on which will being the most value and effective, and then ask who would like to implement the solution.

As Ralph Stayer, CEO at Johnsonville Sausage, says, “…get people to see their own behaviors, harness their own frustrations, and own their own problems.” Let people own moving your company forward in making decisions and the freedom to act on them.

  1. Turn your Personnel Department into a Learning Center.

Having dinner with a peer one evening, she said, “I can’t drink much wine because I have to do my team’s performance reviews.” “Why are you doing them? Why not let the team members evaluate themselves? They know how they have performed.” And she did. Sometime later I asked the team what they thought of the experience. They replied, “It was a bit daunting, but very useful. I learned a lot.”

People know themselves, know how well they are doing and what they need to do to improve. Give up performance reviews, unless you want the teams to evaluate their leaders.

Without performance reviews, turn your personnel department into a real learning center. Learning is not just reading a book or attending a training class. Classes and books need to be combined with mentoring, coaching, opportunities to learn, and having a safe place to fail.

 

  1. Acknowledge People, Authentically and Often.

A VP of a large company managed their leading product that delivered over one billion dollars in revenue a year. She cut the delivery time from three years to one and now it is down to every three months. Other divisions want to know how she did it and she was a legend in the company. However, in a re-organization with hoped to move the company to the next level, she was not moved up in the ranks. When she asked why, the answer was, “You don’t speak up enough in meetings.” This is demotivating and sends a message that even if you do work hard, you won’t advance.

People that excel in your company want recognition, authentic recognition. Find ways that will resonate with the individual, unique to them.

  1. People have Options.

At a recent executive offsite, the years the results were presented and the size of each bonus was very disappointing. The execs worried they would lose their talent and very soon. Even in this slow growth economy, many people have job options and headhunters are very active and aggressive, especially after a merger or change in the c-level leadership.

Your job is to create a place where people want to work not have to be there. They want challenging work to do and not what you think will be challenging but what they think will be challenging. Find out what their best job was in the past, what books have they read that made a difference in their life, and what their favorite vacation was. Watch for their eyes to light up, their headlights are on!

Talk to people and ask questions to discover their passion and find a spot in your company where that passion will come to light. It may not always be possible. A project manager in a high tech company was once asked what his ideal job would be. He answered, “Forest Ranger.” No wonder his direct reports felt he was too controlling. People are not to be managed like trees. He was eventually moved out of a management position.

Summary

People want more than money for their work. They want interesting work where they can own the solutions. They want to participate in the decisions that not only move the company forward but make their work more effective and efficient. As a leader, stay in the “what” and “why” business and out of the “how” business.

This article was written by Pollyanna Pixton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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