Three Key Drivers for Retaining the "Best of the Best" in Your
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by: Karla Brandau, CSP
In the executive offices of high-tech companies across the globe, a new weapon
is reemerging in the executive arsenal with powerful implications for driving
business success: Retention Leadership.
Executives whose daily challenges in the 21st Century global
environment are how to work with China and India, understand the MySpace
Generation and get more free publicity while paying for less advertising, are
familiar with initiatives to increase innovation, streamline business processes
and motivate for higher individual productivity. However, these executives are
now looking at the work of their organization through another dimension:
leadership and the retention of employees.
According to the Harvard Business Review,
not paying attention to the retention of employees puts the company in a
position to lose people with talents they need, often inadvertently retaining
people with outdated or ordinary skills.
In a brain-based economy in need of retention, people are your best assets, not
empty chess pieces to be moved around by inexperienced managers. Top managers
improve retention rates if they immerse themselves in creating an environment
where the best, the brightest and the most creative are attracted, motivated and
set free to produce.
Three critical leadership drivers bring high retention results:
Driver #1: Connect on a Human Level
Dealing with data, bytes, and scientific thinking in a high tech environment can
obscure the fact that you are working with human beings with emotions and mortal
needs. A good retention program starts with managers who know how to connect on
a human level, not just be someone whose position on the organizational chart
makes it possible for him/her to force compliance to rules and policies.
People will personally commit to certain individuals who on the organizational
chart possess little authority, but instead possess pizzazz, drive, expertise,
and genuine caring for teammates and products. Think of the power of having a
position on the organizational chart as well as the personal charisma to inspire
These three things will make your formal title jump off the org chart, creating
synergistic team work and expanding your influence:
Check the Ego. Never let your ego get so close to your position that it defines your position
and eclipses everyone else in the department or on the team. In well-run
organizations, titles are also pretty meaningless. At best, they advertise some
authority, an official status conferring the ability to give orders and induce
obedience. But titles mean little in terms of real power, which is the capacity
to influence and inspire.
Flex your style. Blindly following strict managerial guidelines or the current management fad
generates rigidity in thought and action and reduces your credibility. Learn to
flex your style: Sometimes speed to market is more important than total quality.
Sometimes an unapologetic directive is more appropriate than participatory
discussion. Some situations require the leader to hover closely; others require
long, loose leashes. The best leaders honor their core values, but are flexible
in how they execute them. They understand that management techniques are not
magic mantras but simply tools to be reached for at the right times.
Exhibit optimism. In a recent seminar, I met Bernard "Butch" Deuto who was a young man at NASA
working on the ground crew during the Apollo 13 crises. He said that during the
crisis, there was no doubt, no negativism, no whining, no pointing of fingers.
There was only an optimistic attitude and a determination to succeed. Failure
truly was not an option. Failure never entered their minds. In a similar
fashion, when faced with tough competition, cost overruns, product defects and a
myriad of other problems, a leader with determination and optimism focuses
workers on solutions, not problems. Morale improves.
Driver Two: Offer leadership Training that Focuses on the Growth of the Employee
Studies document that an employee’s level of satisfaction with their direct
manager's leadership style is critical to a satisfactory work environment and to
retention. Researchers find that the relationship with the employee's immediate
supervisor carried more impact on the employee than overall company policies or
procedures. This relationship also determines productivity levels. To keep
bright employees engaged in their jobs and performing at high levels, managers
Information is a source of power. Unskilled managers keep it close to the vest
and stingily dole it out in snippets of information on a “need to know” basis as
if the employee was on a top secret mission. Without a big picture of the
project, it is easy for employees to stray from the vision or end-goal of the
product or service.
· Support. Mental and
emotional support takes many forms. Setting clear goals, accepting ideas,
affirming suggestions, making recommendations when stuck on a particular point
are all ways to support. Perhaps the best support for the retention of
entrepreneurial-minded, innovative employees is to give them the room to try
innovative ideas and take calculated risks without the fear of failure,
retaliation or a pink slip.
Resources are not just pencils, printers and up-to-date software but also
involve access to other people in the organization. Providing the appropriate
resources may involve putting together special teams to tackle tough problems
and stimulate creative ideas.
Employees need the opportunity to improve their own status within the
organization and to invest in themselves in the form of personal development.
People will jump ship not just for more pay, but for better opportunities to
learn and grow. Retention leadership encourages everyone's evolution.
Driver Three: Insist on ethical conduct.
The fastest way to alienate the best and the brightest of your workforce and
send them networking for another job is to destroy trust by unethical behaviors.
Since the Enron debacle, Forbes.com
maintains a list of corporate accounting scandals with tainted companies ranging
from Bristol-Myers Squibb to AOL Time-Warner. Just recently, national news
carried the blow-by-blow confidential information leaks from industry giant,
Unethical behavior is a precarious precipice with resulting chaos in employee
ranks. Successful organizations have a leadership team that insists on honesty
and ethical conduct at every level in the organization. In essence, the
excellent leadership team creates an organizational culture of integrity.
Culture integrity, however, is more than insisting on ethical behavior. It is
more than requiring ethics training for all employees. On a deeper level, it is:
· Living and validating organizational mission and vision.
· Leading by example in matters of honesty and trustworthiness.
· Aligning employees with organizational values.
· Encouraging candid conversations.
· Insuring that deadlines are met.
· Demanding high product standards.
· Replacing blame with problem analysis.
· Rewarding employees appropriately.
the Nine Principles of Culture IntegrityTM in your
organization involves attention to employee accountability as well as managerial
responsibilities. For instance, leadership integrity involves providing clear
instructions for the parameters of the project while permitting the employee to
retain responsibility for clarifying instructions and meeting deadlines.
Good employees respond to Culture IntegrityTM standards and to
leaders who convey an unwavering firmness and consistency in their actions while
exhibiting clarity of purpose.
These three leadership retention drivers will retain your best and brightest
employees and contribute to the forward movement of your company in the chaotic
21st century global workplace.
Brandau, CSP, is an expert in change, leadership and team building in the flat
world. She offers keynotes and workshops to move your organization forward. Sign
up for her monthly newsletter, From the Desk of Karla Brandau and download free
articles by going to
www.KarlaBrandau.com. Contact Karla at 770-923-0883 for a free consultation
or to check the availability of dates to bring Karla to your organization.
Contributor: Karla Brandau
Published here on: 21-Sep-07
Classification: Leadership, Business, Change
3 Key Drivers for