Give your people a reason to stay - providing direction
It’s a competitive employment market across multiple industries at the moment. Whether they’re business, leadership or people problems that keep you up at night, there is overwhelming research which suggests there are some key elements which will contribute to helping you get and keep the good people who can be part of the solution.
How do you do this? A starting point must be in planning and communicating direction.
People want to be on a team that knows where it is going and is making progress. If they know what your organisation is trying to achieve they can take up the challenge and make a contribution. These are the things that keep people motivated and staying on to see the success and enjoy being part of something they've helped build.
The first element to address is strategic planning. This should provide a direction for the business and this should be communicated to all employees. It may have to be structured to meet the needs of the various groups of employees to meet the needs of each individual but it should be done on a regular basis in the most appropriate form.
Communication is not just emails, announcements and reports. It’s about ensuring that each employee, when they make a decision, can understand the context of it and how it fits with the overall vision and contributes to it.
If employees know where the team is going and how they fit in they can make better decisions about how they can contribute. Many suggestions for improvement come from the most surprising quarters when people are committed to help and know what is required.
People like to know how they are going. How many people would watch football if they didn't keep score? Regular progress reports will help them feel they are moving forward and having some successes. Regular updates of performance against target can be positive if progress is going well. If it is not going well, why keep them in the dark? - ask for help.
An interesting exercise to see how well some businesses do this is, when you are dealing with some other organisation, to ask the employee you are dealing with how their business is going. Some don't know and don't seem to care. Their reaction is normally in line with the quality of service they are giving you. Excellent service is normally given by someone who is interested in, and knowledgeable about their business.
It is very easy to become so involved in planning within the boardroom that communicating to the people who make it happen can be forgotten. They can be an untapped source of additional energy and creativity.
The following quote from a dock worker at a trucking company is taken from an excellent book, "The Leadership Solution" by Jim Shaffer.
“It's like management has this little game. It's called "Connect the Dots" We're supposed to watch what they do, then figure it out for ourselves. We're supposed to connect the dots. What a waste of time and energy. Isn't that what good leadership's all about? Aren’t they supposed to connect the dots so we can get on with growing the business?”