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7 Leadership Practices That Will Reduce Employee Turnover to a Minimum.

In our previous posting, we talked about the key role you and your management team play in retaining the best and brightest of your employees.  We noted that the main reason, by far and away, that people leave their jobs is because they can’t stand working for whoever their boss is.  That “boss” could be the CEO or a Vice President or a department head, or a shift supervisor . . . it really doesn’t matter.  If the relationship between the employee and whoever he or she reports to is strained, he or she will stick around only long enough to find another job.  Considering today’s record-low unemployment levels, finding that next job isn’t going to take long.  So what can you and your management team do to prevent good people from heading for the exits?  That’s what we promised to discuss in this posting, so for that discussion, please continue reading below.

7 Leadership Practices That Will Reduce Employee Turnover to a Minimum.

Begin with the understanding that leadership is all about relationships.  In the absence of a good relationship, employees may do what their managers tell them to do, but only grudgingly and without much enthusiasm.  Without a strong relationship with their managers, employees will do the bare minimum that is required of them, but you won’t get any discretionary effort from them.  They will be nine-to-fivers, and that’s all.

So how do you forge the sort of relationships between manager/leaders and their employees that will cause the employees to follow where their managers lead, not because they have to, but because they want to?  That’s the key question.  However, while we can’t answer that question exhaustively or in detail here, we can offer seven broad leadership concepts that will help guide you and your managers in the right direction.

  1. Build trust.  Trust is the bedrock of leadership.  People won’t willingly follow you anywhere if they don’t trust you, nor will they particularly enjoy working for you.  So don’t make promises you can’t keep, and when you do make promises, deliver on them consistently.  Honoring commitments on a sporadic basis won’t cut it.  When you make a commitment, whether big or small, you need to honor it, not just sometimes, but every time.  Insist that your employees do the same.
  2. Don’t be a “boss.”  Don’t be a cop on a beat always trying to catch someone doing something wrong.  Be a coach and mentor to the people in your charge.  Don’t be a micromanager, but do be available when your people find themselves in unfamiliar territory and need some help.  Understand their aspirations, ambitions, and goals and show them the path to achieving those.
  3. Give credit, accept blame.  When things go well, give credit to your team.  When things don’t go so well, be their protector and defender by taking responsibility yourself.  Make sure they know that you have their backs and that you’re not going to throw them under the bus at the first sign of trouble . . . that you stand between them and other authority figures within the organization.  This is another behavior that will help build trust.
  4. Make your employees feel like colleagues.  People are looking for more than just a job.  They want to be valued members of an organization.  When problems are being discussed and decisions made that affect their work, they want a seat at the table.  They want to know that their thoughts, ideas, and opinions are heard and valued.
  5. Focus on what, not how.  Employees want as much freedom and self-direction as possible.  Give them credit for being intelligent adults who can manage their time responsibly.  Judge them by the results they are getting, by what they’re accomplishing.  As long as they are producing quality work on time, who cares when or where or how they’re doing it.
  6. Give your people more than just a workplace.  People don’t want a workplace.  They want a community where they have friends, colleagues, and a sense of belonging.  In short, they want to be part of a tribe . . . their tribe.  Help them create that tribe.
  7. Give regular feedback.  Forget about the traditional “annual review.”  People need more timely feedback than that, so give it to them.  On a regular basis, tell them what they’re doing well, and where they need to improve.  And use the occasion to ask for their feedback on your own performance.  Are they getting what they need from you?  Where would they like to see you improve?

Go to a bookstore or to your library, and you’ll find shelf upon shelf of books about leadership.  And rightly so.  It’s a vast topic that is crucial to all organizations . . . social, civic, business, military, or political, it really doesn’t matter.  Good leadership practices are essential to all of them.  Here, in this posting, we could only deal with the most basic leadership concepts in the broadest possible terms with little or no detail.  But hopefully, it provides a framework for leadership against which you can compare your own leadership practices.

Adopting these seven leadership practices will not put you into the Leadership Hall of Fame, but they will earn you a reputation as a good place to work, and a place your best and brightest won’t want to leave.

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