I said a while ago I’d be focusing on retention issues for a while.
A bit odd you may think, as we get paid to find great new people, but we’ve always been a bit different, and we've always focused on the long term benefits and relationships with our clients.
With Vaccines rolling out you've likely started to see a shift in news headlines around work and the pandemic. No longer focused on what we have been through, the new emphasis is on what’s to come. Though it’s impossible to predict the future, it certainly seems reasonable that the forecast could be correct: a mass employee exodus is coming. How can you stop it?
And do you want to?
If the thought is that turnover is a natural evolution of the workforce, it’s true. But as a leader, it’s important to remain on the driving end of those decisions, not the receiving. Creating an environment in which nobody would ever want to leave might sound impossible, but falling a few feet short of that goal is better than never striving to achieve it at all. Imagine if you had a rock-solid team of “A” Players, and a line out the door of more wanting to join. Imagine what the future could hold if your highest potentials never went to your competition, they only joined from them. Would those scenarios allow you to achieve more and (perhaps more important) enjoy more?
So yes, it’s fair to say that paying attention to retention is more essential than ever, knowing what’s likely to come.
Inc.com recently published an article that states a jaw-dropping 52% of employees plan to leave their jobs this year. Their research found:
• 71% more employees are more disengaged in 2021 than they were at the beginning of 2020, and 66% of employees said they would be more engaged at work if their employer improved company culture.
• 46% of employees feel less connected to their company or colleagues since the start of the pandemic; most employees blame a lack of communication (26%) or lack of effort to make remote employees feel connected (25%).
• Research found one in four employees (25%) reported work-life balance as the reason they would search for a new job.
What do we deduce from this? What kind of culture will inspire and retain the best? How can employees get involved and feel part of something bigger than themselves? What is the right balance of virtual and in-person interactions? These are just a few of endless questions that should be asked within the senior leadership of an organization. Consider though, that the answers aren’t found at the top. What matters to people isn’t the key to retention. What matters to the person is.
It's time to stop theorizing.
It’s time to start asking.
If you had to name the names of your most important clients, who would immediately come to mind? If the answer is anyone other than the names of your employees, it’s likely time for a paradigm shift. Your people are your most valued asset, and they should feel as though you are dedicated to serving them the same way you do your external ones. Authenticity is paramount; to a certain extent, Zig Zigler’s famous quote that “you will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want” is commonly mistaken.
If the reason you want something from others is because it will benefit you, that is inauthentic behavior that few will trust. If your intent is to genuinely serve those around you, you have begun to create a relationship of authenticity. Work on asking purposeful questions and perfecting your active listening skills, and share responses and professional recommendations that are rooted in the intention of serving those you lead. If you truly believe in what you say and the intent behind why you are saying it, others will as well.
“Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey
As it relates to professional purpose and fulfilment, there are two critical elements that are highly intertwined but distinctly different: the responsibilities and the relationships. Retention cannot happen without constant care and feeding around both.
• What’s going well? What wins are you experiencing?
• What challenges are you facing? What do you need help with? What is making your job harder than it needs to be?
• How are you feeling about the work itself that you are doing? How would you describe your morale?
• What have you not been involved with yet, that you would like to be? (types of projects, clients, meetings, responsibilities)
• Do any of our processes seem inefficient? How can we fix them?
• Wave a wand – what would you love to fix or change about our department? Leadership? Team? Company? Commute? Hours?
• Envision you a year from now. How is that person different than today, and what do we need to do to take perpetual steps to prepare you for that progression?
• On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that you’re in the right place, doing the right things, with the right people? What can be done to move us higher up on the scale?
• What’s a 7 that could be a 10? Every company does things well, but what’s good that you believe you could help make even better?
• Who do you work with (me included) that frustrates you, and why?
• How can I be better for you as a leader? What should I be doing more of? What should I be doing less of?
• What can I do to help make you more successful?
• If you were ever to be open to an opportunity outside of our organization, what would it look like and how can we create that here together?
Confidential surveys are good for disclosing issues that people don’t feel comfortable sharing. But confidential surveys do not lead to retention; candid conversations do.
David Hunt is a prominent figure and thought leader in the clean energy sector. Hailed as a leading green entrepreneur by the Financial Times, David also presents at industry events such as EcoSummit, Energy Storage Europe and Fully Charged Live. David is a frequent contributor to trade publications such as Energy Storage News, Solar Power Portal, PV Tech, Clean Energy News and Smart Cities World. His industry insights have been quoted in UK broadsheet newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and the Sunday Times. Being well versed in business and economics, he has also lent his voice to the likes of BBC Radio Four and ITV’s 6 O’clock news. A cleantech expert and industry insider, David specialises in the clean energy and eMobility sectors. His drive to accelerate these growing markets led him to set up Hyperion Executive Search Ltd, a talent acquisition company specialising in the clean energy space that incisively places talent where it’s needed. Hyperion has been helping businesses grow and succeed since 2014 and recently expanded its operations in Europe with a new office in Munich. David’s headhunting team now operates across EMEA and the US. Before this, David co-founded an award-winning multi-technology renewable energy installation business, sat as a policy board member with the UK Renewable Energy Association, and was a member of PRASEG (Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group). The ‘This week in cleantech’ podcast is a platform for David and invited experts to share and review the biggest, and most interesting news stories in the cleantech sector each week, providing expert opinion, analysis and insight. It is anticipated that the podcast will be a catalyst for the further growth and development of the cleantech revolution.