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Proactive management is the key to staff retention Back  
Identifying bad managers and training them to become good managers is the key to staff retention writes Deiric McCann who believes that people leave people not jobs.
The financial services sector, like many others in our tiger economy, is grappling with the challenge of how to attract and retain those people they need to fill their key positions and help them capitalise upon unprecedented opportunities for business development and expansion.
So just how do you go about this? Well, unless you know what attracts the modern jobseeker, and what drives them from their current positions, you simply cannot formulate a realistic attraction and retention strategy.

Profiles International recently completed a survey on why people leave their jobs. The following were the six main reasons cited by the respondents:

• 30 per cent were unhappy with management and the way they managed
• 25 per cent felt that got no recognition for good work
• 20 per cent complained of limited opportunities for advancement
• 15 per cent cited inadequate salary & benefits
• 5 per cent were bored with the job

• 5 per cent cited other reasons such as retirement, career change, sabbatical or travel
The message is simple - if you want to attract and retain the best possible people to your organisation these are the key items that must form the basis of any approach to addressing this key challenge.

Here’s a five-step backbone for your strategy that provides practical approaches to addressing 95 per cent of the reasons that people leave their jobs:

The first step is to look at the managers. People leave people, not jobs. Look at the results - 30 per cent of people didn’t leave their jobs - they left their managers. Start measuring your staff turnover by manager - find out where the real problems are. Unless you know which managers are hemorrhaging people you can’t do anything about it. To help these managers improve their game you first have to identify them.

Then review all of your managers in terms of their leadership and management skills, that way you’ll find out what exactly is driving your people away. Use 360 degree feedback to give each manager, his/her boss, his/her direct reports, and his/her fellow managers an opportunity to provide feedback on what they are doing well - and what they could do better. Then act upon what you discover. Provide training, coaching and support to those managers who struggle to manage their people in a way that encourages productivity and retention.

The second step is to create a recognition culture. Twenty five per cent of all people leaving their jobs do so because they don’t get sufficient recognition for the contribution they make. Task your managers with the responsibility for seeking out the many ways in which their people perform above and beyond the call of duty. Have them consciously seek out opportunities for positive recognition. Institute award schemes for exemplary performance and give everyone an opportunity to bask in the glow of positive recognition for a job well done.

The third step is to create an atmosphere of continual self-improvement. Twenty per cent of people leave their jobs because they feel that they’re not getting sufficient advancement to retain them.

The modern jobseeker wants the opportunity to develop themselves to be all that they possibly can be - to continually polish their skills, abilities and experience so that their potential market value continually rises - and if they can do this without the uncertainty of job-hopping then so much the better. You’ll need a clear ongoing development path for everyone - a way that each and every one of your people can advance their skills and value so that they become all that they can be.

Create an atmosphere of continual self-development - give everyone access to any training that will enhance their skills, their value, and their self-esteem. Don’t be boxed in to limiting the training available to those skills specific to an individual’s current job. Remember that you are not simply training for job effectiveness but also offering your people the development opportunities that make them feel good enough about the pace of their personal advancement that they don’t feel the need to seek our greener grass elsewhere. Invest heavily in training and development and then actively encourage your people to take advantage of your programs. Provide them with the means for success - train them on company time, give them study leave, have senior managers coach and support them. Engage them in their own ongoing, longer-term development. Show them how they can get all of this development from within your organisation; focus their minds on genuine development goals that extend far beyond the availability of the next recruitment supplement. This creates truly compelling and self-serving reasons to stay.

If you implement these first three steps then you’ve already eliminated 75 per cent of the reasons that people leave their jobs, and we haven’t even mentioned money yet!

The fourth step is money. When it comes to remuneration put your best foot forward immediately. Pay your people as much salary, give them as many benefits as you can afford - and do it from day one.

Abandon the ‘what can I get her for?’ thinking in favour of ‘how much is this position worth to me, and what can I afford to pay?’ Think about it sensibly, if you pare back the package at offer time by the 10 per cent or 15 per cent you can get away with, will this 10 - 15 per cent be enough to retain these people in the face of an offer from another employer? Most likely not - it’ll be too little, too late. So put your best foot forward - and let them know. Let everyone know that you are paying absolutely as much as you can and that, to continue to do so, everyone will have to pull together as a team to generate the productivity necessary for the organisation’s success. We all respond to fair treatment.

A further step that can be taken is to match people to jobs. Having followed 360,000 people through their careers over a twenty-year period a major study by Harvard Business Review demonstrated that a key ingredient in retaining people is ensuring that they are matched to their jobs in terms of their abilities, interests, and personalities.

Use psychometric tools to determine the requirements of each of your positions in terms of abilities, interests and personality, and then use this information to match your jobs to people who will excel in them. Put the right person in the right job and you eliminate a large amount of the 5 per cent that leave simply because they ‘are bored with the job’.

Sadly, there is no quick, easy and inexpensive ‘silver bullet’ that will help you to win the war for quality people. But apply these six sensible steps and you eliminate over 95 per cent of the reasons people defect - putting yourself well on track to be one of that envied class - the Employer of Choice.

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