…So lately I have been thinking a lot about retention. I’ve been thinking about how two people in the exact same role with the exact same boss and exact same team can be in polar opposite states of happiness. I’ve been thinking about how people digest uncertainty differently, and about how where you want to be can impact how you feel about where you are. I’ve been thinking about how difficult it can be to get people to tell you what they want, and how daunting the pressure can be to take action once they finally do.
While thinking about these truths I came across an interesting piece from Josh Bersin on how to excite, manage, and retain tech talent. This is a great piece, and you can read it here. I loved it because of how closely the insights are applicable to any individual or team – tech or not – but I especially liked the part about giving employees a voice. From the article:
Panasonic has an “open exchange” meeting which lets technical people (not leaders) talk about what’s on their mind. Wheels has open meetings (“Ask Anything” meetings) which let anyone provide input and questions (people can text their questions) for discussion, letting people stay anonymous if they wish.
… (it’s) important for leaders to be quiet and let people offer feedback, encouraging the team to listen. Many technical professionals are not willing to speak up (many certainly are), so we should create lots of places for people to provide feedback in any way they feel comfortable.
…I think that many leaders are afraid to give employees a platform to express their views like in the examples above. And I think the primary reason they fear giving people a podium to share their thoughts is because it means potentially spreading unwanted ideas in the minds of the broader employee population. If people share what’s on their minds, there is a (good) chance it will not all be good. And many leaders fear having to manage that.
I think that fear is misdirected, though. I think it’s much scarier to let discontent hover underneath the surface. It’s scarier to not let people give voice to what they’re thinking in a public forum where rumor and untruth can be debunked.
…I think the best way to engage and retain is to empower people to share all of their questions, thoughts, and concerns – good and bad – and act on them as well as one can.
Good leaders listen and take action. And these two things in concert drive retention.
…Or maybe I have this wrong. As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.