Staff Retention - 30 March 2010
It’s an accepted part of life that friends drift apart. You can be best buddies with someone today and yet be mere acquaintances with them tomorrow. In high school I had lots of mates, but today I’m not in touch with any of them. And when we look at the biggest driver of why close friendships fall apart, we don’t find disagreements as the fault. We find neglect.
It might be the neglected birthday we forgot to call and wish them well. It could be the neglected email to which we haven’t found the time to respond. It may be the neglected request for help we haven’t had the energy to provide. The consequence of repeated neglect is the unraveling of friendships that were once quite tight.
A similar scenario plays out at work. Staff turnover is often precipitated by neglect. And here’s the thing to keep in mind: it’s unintentional. It creeps up on you. You don’t set out to neglect employees. It just tends to happen when you get busy, stressed, absentminded, or a host of other factors that take your focus away from what’s most important.
The solution is attentive management. It’s becoming aware of what’s going on with each individual employee. It’s being conscious of subtle clues that let you know what’s up. It’s not just about paying attention, but making attention. Here’s the distinction:
- Paying attention is when you're available and approachable. But making attention is when you go out of your way to offer assistance.
- Paying attention is when you give feedback in coaching sessions. But making attention is when you give immediate and sincere recognition.
- Paying attention is when you have casual conversations. But making attention is when you build meaningful relationships by initiating regular contact.
- Paying attention is when you inform employees of future changes. But making attention is when you consult and involve them in the process.
- Paying attention is when you give employees enough work to do. But making attention is when you create opportunities that challenge and stimulate them.
As the employment market strengthens after the global financial crisis, employees will be eager to change jobs. If you wait until resignations arrive on your desk before you start practicing attentive management, it’ll be too late. Friends turnover and staff turnover share something in common: In both cases, it’s hard to recover from consistent neglect.
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