Why do people leave teams and organizations? The No. 1 reason is that they fail to connect with their bosses as leaders and as people.
People are rarely honest about why they leave a company. There is no upside incentive. While the primary reason people leave companies is because of the relationship and lack of emotional connection with their boss, it is almost never talked about in the exit interview. Who wants to burn a bridge they may need for a future job reference?
It’s easier to talk about work/life balance, moving on to build skill sets, or the need to make more money. Salary is much further down the list than what is usually reported in exit interviews.
Most companies talk a great deal about the need to retain the best people to sustain growth, but they lack an integrated plan to create retention momentum. What is your current game plan to keep your best people?
As a leader, you are personally accountable to acquire and retain the very best people. It is that simple. If you fail to recruit and retain top talent, you will not sustain growth over time. The effective leader embraces a retention plan.
Emotional connection points
Emotional connections provide the fuel that greatly enhances retention. It is driven by the trust and development of your individual team members. It starts with building your emotional connections with each team member.
The power of the “unexpected” is the most powerful way to emotionally connect with another person. Think about it; do you get more credit with your significant other when you send a handwritten note when they least expect it? Of course you do. The same concept applies to you as a leader. It is the “unexpected” things a leader does that really make the difference:
• Write a personal note or send a greeting card to the spouses or significant others, telling them what a difference their partner is making to your business.
• Take the employee to breakfast, lunch or dinner (if appropriate) and ask what “really matters” to them and what you can do as a leader to help them build their future dreams.
• Take your entire team out together to celebrate a special event. When I was with Hallmark, I would take my team out every year for a holiday meal in the private dining room of a local restaurant. I would say something special about each of the team members at the end of the meeting. The primary message, delivered in front of the entire team, focused on the unique skill sets each person brings to the table to make us all successful.
• Create a surprise, fun outing as part of a team business trip. I took my team on a business trip together to the West Coast. While on the trip, we made an “unexpected” stop at “The Rock,” or Alcatraz in San Francisco. The experience directly enhanced team bonding.
• Create local, fun activities for the team. These fun team activity events should be done during regular business hours to truly be appreciated. Weekend activities that cut into personal time are almost guaranteed to land with a giant thud. Your team wants you to be a great leader; they aren’t looking for another weekend friend.
• Utilize your boss to deliver special praise for a job well done in a one-on-one meeting. This should be unexpected and focus on results and accomplishments as well as the recognition of the unique strengths of the individual.
• Create an unexpected personalized memento for individual team members celebrating the accomplishment of a major event.
Make time to connect
Why do leaders so often fail to build these emotional connections with their people? It takes time and places many leaders outside their comfort zones, thus increasing their vulnerability. It is easier to tackle those 85 e-mails. What many leaders fail to realize is that they are actually more vulnerable if they choose not to invest the time to do it.