How I ensured my staff stuck around with me for 25+ years!
No it wasn’t high salaries and definitely not that they did not find any other opportunities. It was plain simple respect, regard, empathy, and confidence they built in their leader- their company director.
In my professional career, I have done some short-duration jobs and let’s accept that the expectations from an employee isn’t something impossible or too complex. Talking of me, all I wanted was a good environment to work, defined expectations and a clear direction from my seniors. Salary, for me, wasn’t an issue because I always used to believe that nothing can stop money coming in as long as one works diligently with sincerity, honesty, integrity, and persistent efforts.
In my business career, I have been fortunate to have had some of the best team members who have been with me since the last 25+ years. Many of my associates say I am lucky and blessed to have such a team and nod their heads in full agreement when I give credit to my team for some of my achievements. But to be honest, it’s not been a cake walk. Lot of different people, different attitudes and personalities, different expectations, and to top it all- never had a HR department or a HR manager. Never felt the need as I believed that unless I, myself, do not understand my team members inside out, how can I steer my company ahead? Of course this argument cannot hold water for large businesses but for a small/ medium enterprise like mine, this argument and thought of mine proved very effective.
Some of the steps that can be taken to ensure retention of your important core team members:
- Make them accountable: Many a times you will be asked by the team about their rights and responsibilities. Everybody wants to know what can they do and where to draw the line while acknowledging responsibilities. But the question is: who will be held accountable if something untoward happens? I always want and like the person to raise his/ her hand and say “It’s my fault. I take full accountability of this situation. I thought/ presumed/ assumed….. I am sorry about this and assure the management that this will never happen again.” This character needs to be inculcated in each one by repeatedly emphasising on this one quality that we would like to see in them.
- Make them appreciate freedom: Everybody wants freedom. Freedom to express, work, use company resources, and make decisions. Management is normally always agreeable to this, provided they understand accountability, organisational hierarchy, and appreciate the company’s vision and mission statements. Freedom is never a standalone concept. With freedom comes a lot of maturity, sensibility, and responsibility and if this is understood well, giving freedom is never an issue. In fact without freedom to work and express, a person will never be able to perform and achieve.
- Incentivise their performance: Everyone, be it the Chairperson or a junior executive, likes to be appreciated. Appreciation need not be in the form of money always but money talks the loudest. To steer a company forward the core team which is responsible to drive the numbers need to be incentivised monetarily. I have always believed in targets and incentives and have always found it to be a very good win-win arrangement between the employer and employee. Employer needs to pay ONLY IF the extra revenues (targets) are achieved. Employee also gets excited because he/ she knows that additional business generated will directly help him financially.
- Make them understand the difference between being an Island Vs being a member of the Team: In your professional career, you will come across employees who like to work as an island. Totally disconnected and on their own. They never expect anything from anyone else and take full responsibility and accountability of everything pertaining to their work area/ domain. Whereas the preferred way is always Team work, such island employees are also important as they ensure that their department or domain is completely politics and bureaucracy free. He/ She is the boss and he/ she is the manager and the executive. However, the thing to be handled is that this “islander” may not expect anything from anyone, but he/ she cannot deny providing his data/ assistance/ or any work which might be useful to the other team members.
- Let ideas roll and suggestions flow: No idea or suggestion is useless or stupid. Let everyone in the organisation get occasional opportunities to express their views, share their feedback and provide suggestions pertaining to their workplace without the fear of being ridiculed or looked down upon. I have seen that sometimes ideas fly from unexpected quarters and vice versa too.
- Only performance counts: Sycophants are everywhere. Stay away from these people. They not only sweet-talk you but also talk negative about others. The thumb rule should be that only performance and company’s bottomline counts. A junior can be given a higher increment than his senior if the junior has performed beyond expectations and has a better and brighter vision. This policy will ensure that seniors never become complacent and the juniors will always keep striving to achieve more and perform better.
- Make them feel valued and develop a sense of belongingness towards the company: Involve them sometimes in the discussion about profit and loss status of the company. Make them aware of the company bottomline and the importance of budget planning and expense control. Tom and Sam were 2 marketing managers given same targets for the quarter. Both achieved the targets and became eligible for incentives. However, Tom spent a lot on networking and travel etc. whereas Sam was within budget and always conscious about the company’s bottomline…who should be considered a more valuable employee?
No CEO or President of any company could ever achieve anything without the support of the team. Creating and retaining team members is as important as other business processes like quality control or financial stability or customer satisfaction. Charity begins at home- instead of always focussing on customer as the king, let’s treat our team as the most important customer and automatically they will perform in a way that overall business with its various processes will prosper and outshine the others.
Together…let’s create success and prosperity!