Breaking the myth employees leave managers not companies

With Brexit looming and record levels of UK employment, employee retention has never been more important. Whilst some churn is healthy, introducing new blood and ideas, many organisations need to manage and reduce their current level of staff turnover. As well as direct costs like recruitment, on-boarding and training, high employee turnover can negatively impact customer relationships and can be corrosive for the company culture.

From our perspective, the key to improving employee retention is identifying your greatest attrition risks (whether they are in particular departments or at specific stages of the employee life-cycle), and, secondly, the reasons why employees may be considering leaving. With this information in hand you can take action before your best talent walks out the door.

What we’ve been told

Conventional wisdom and countless articles tell us that people leave their jobs because of bad managers. Thinking about our own personal experiences, many of us may be able recall at least one toxic manager. Perhaps they were disengaged themselves; they didn’t lead by example; or they were prone to micro-management. But is this the norm? Whilst no manager is perfect, are the majority so bad that this is the single biggest reason why people leave their jobs? Or are there bigger factors at play?

Our research

In WorkBuzz engagement surveys, we recommend asking employees if they would choose to stay working at their company, even if they were offered a similar job elsewhere. If they say they would consider leaving, we then ask them why:

By aggregating this data across WorkBuzz clients, assessing 23,500 individuals, we were able to see the main reasons why employees said they would consider leaving. Here’s what we found:

The results are startling – only 1 in 8 (13%), cited their manager as a contributing factor. The top reasons – a lack of career opportunities dissatisfaction with pay and recognition were cited at least three times more often!

Now, there are some caveats. Firstly, WorkBuzz clients aren’t fully representative of all companies – the fact that they’re investing in tracking their culture and employee experience may mean that they’re more likely to be investing in developing their people managers, so they’re better than average. However, the fact that employees were three times more likely to cite a lack of career opportunities or appreciation is telling.

Secondly, managers can and do impact these factors – if they’re helping to coach their team members and discuss this career aspirations, their team members are more likely to feel that they can grow and develop their career. That said, bigger cultural issues are at play, such as whether the company has mapped out career paths; whether it allocates budget for training and development; and whether it has well publicised role models who have progressed through the ranks.

We’d therefore urge you not to focus too much on the percentages shown above, but on the order: for most employees a lack of career opportunities and pay and recognition are the key factors that will affect whether they would consider leaving.

 

Understanding what drives staff turnover for your organisation

Your organisation is unique and what drives employee turnover will differ compared to the averages we’ve shared above. To start, in your engagement survey, we recommend that you repeat the above steps, confidentially asking prospective leavers the reason(s) why they may be considering leaving and supplementing this with exit interview data. We’re not huge fans of exit interviews, however, because employees have often psychologically checked-out by the time they hand in their notice.

It’s also crucial to look at this by each stage of the employee life-cycle. For example, newer employees in the honeymoon period may be really satisfied with their development and feeling appreciated. However, this may quickly wear off when they’re no longer a newbie.

Finally, look at this by demographics like age and department. If you have a high percentage of people in a given office saying that they are considering leaving because of their manager, this may well be a warning sign. Recruitment source can also be interesting – you may find employees who have heard about the job via an employee referral may be a better cultural fit and less likely to say that they are considering leaving.

The Formula For Effective Personal Development Discussions

Personal development discussions are a vital part of making your team members feel valued. Here’s how to go about it.

Conducting personal development discussions on a one-to-one basis will help you to understand your team members’ aspirations and goals. What’s more, it’s a vital part of managing your relationships and will help your reports to feel more valued, encouraging them to do better work and to ultimately stay with your organisation for longer.

Here are some key questions that you might want to ask:

  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any future roles within the organisation that you’d like to progress to?
  • What are your strengths and how could you use them more?
  • Have you identified any skills that would help you in the future?
  • What support do you need from your manager or the organisation to help you to realise your potential?
  • What further learning or training would be useful for you?
  • What reading, videos, webinars or other content is available to help your learning?

You can use the list below to capture development needs and your subsequent plan of action:

Goal e.g. Lead meetings
Activity required Learn how to chair a team meeting, agree actions and follow up with the team
Deadline March
Completed? In progress

While line managers should help employees to put their plan together, each individual should take ownership of their personal development and provide regular updates during their one-to-ones.

You should ensure that you regularly update your team with any new learning opportunities available and help them to take on new challenges that fit with their development goals.

Activities to support personal development

Personal development should be tailored to the goals of the individual. Staff who report to you will look to you as a line manager to help them understand how they can develop.

The following list illustrates a range of opportunities that can be useful for helping individual to progress and develop.

Mentoring: A fantastic way to learn from a role model situated outside the daily workplace, who can hence offer an independent perspective.
When to use it: The individual needs help crafting their career path or an independent voice to help share their thoughts and ideas. Many people utilise mentors to overcome challenges and adversity.

Buddying: A great way to develop through peer-peer support.
When to use it: For use from two perspectives: upskilling junior employees and helping them to feel part of the culture; and giving a leadership or coaching opportunity to more senior team members.

Development hours/work shadowing: Spending time with a department, team or specific role in order to improve understanding.
When to use it: The individual has an interest in a specific business area or role but is not entirely sure of the granular detail involved.

Skills-based development e.g.
Communication: Charing team meetings, writing team briefing emails or presentation skills training.
Leadership/managing others: Buddying a junior member of the team to improve in a specific area or deputising as manager.
Time management: Using a priority matrix or organisational tasks (such as calendar management or to-do lists).
When to use it: When gaps are identified, this kind of training can focus the individual on activities that help to build specific skill sets. You may also identify other skills gaps not shown here, so you’ll have to be creative in using the tools and resources that you have access to, such as internet search, Google Scholar, TED talks and YouTube, and by asking colleagues. Ensure that the individual also seeks opportunities for their development as only they can truly drive their personal development.

Educational qualifications: Depending on the level and type of qualification, an internet search will soon return a range of options – including lots of free to access online content.
When to use it: The individual needs to gain an educational qualification to enable their development or their next career move e.g. an accounting qualification.

Professional certificates/membership: Align to the professional body that gives the best return on investment for that individual. Think about learning opportunities and what responsibilities team members have. Individuals can also benefit from the resources that professional bodies host – from reading materials, webinars and videos through to events, mentoring and networking opportunities.
When to use it: Where there are bodies that the individual should align to as a professional in a certain industry or skill type.

7 Tips For Being An Authentic Leader

You won’t get the most out of your team by being a dictator but by instead becoming an authentic leader – and working smarter not harder.

As a leader you should have a good idea of what you want to achieve in your role, but have you taken the time to think about the type of leader that you want to be in getting there?

There are many different attributes that make a good leader. It’s important that you keep a flexible approach in your leadership style, but you should remember that you cannot be all things to all people.

There will be times you need to be more transactional, but there will also be times where you’ll need to adapt to be more visionary and to set a course for people to follow. The most important thing throughout your leadership journey is that no matter what style you use at any point, you should keep your personality intact while leading. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not: be authentic.

Authentic leaders know their own values, beliefs and strengths. Regardless of a situation, an authentic leader will stick to these and communicate them with their team members. This builds trust, helping you to nurture relationships and to inspire people.

Here are seven simple ways to increase your authenticity in the eyes of your team.

1. Open up

Share details about your hobbies or interests outside of work to help people understand more about you as an individual. Show them you’re human. Be approachable and open to conversations with your team; and perhaps host ‘open office’ hours to enable colleagues to speak to you at specified times.

2. Be yourself

Authentic leaders are originals, not copies. They stick to their values, play to their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses.  You can pick up ideas and inspiration from the likes of Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, but you’re unique and you have to find your own style.

3. Transparent Communication

How effectively do you convey information? Do you help your team understand the bigger picture? Do you help them understand the reasons behind change? Authentic leaders understand that they can’t know everything and appreciate that it’s important to listen to ideas and feedback. They encourage opposing views and alternate perspectives, while ensuring the team gels together as a whole.

4. Admit Mistakes

Let’s face it – nobody’s perfect and, like everyone else on the planet, you’ll make mistakes.  The key is to recognise your mistakes, to share them and to ask for help with solving issues – and, perhaps most importantly of all, to learn from them. It can be tempting to cover things up when they go wrong – but doing so means that your team is doomed to repeat the mistake.

Instead, being honest will encourage your team to recognise you as an authentic individual and to trust you. This also creates a culture where it’s safe to put your head above the parapet, to admit mistakes and to take smart risks.

5. Admit Weaknesses and Praise Success

What’s even scarier for some individuals is the fact that they might not be the best at everything. While there are superhero CEOs who claim to be able to do every job in the company, it’s not the norm. Instead, a great manager should endeavour to hire people who are smarter than they are. Recognise the individual strengths of your team members and when they succeed, ensure that they get recognition for their work.

6. Be Fair

As a team leader, it’s essential that you’re impartial. You should of course reward successes and seek to establish exactly why failures occur. However, you should also ensure that you act consistently and that you take all relevant factors into consideration. Nothing breaks down trust faster than a boss who is seen to play favourites with the team.

7. Model Behaviours

Authentic leaders know that in order to inspire others they need to be professional at all times, to keep their promises and to deliver on them. As a leader, do you ALWAYS make decisions that are principled and honourable?  Are you ever tempted to take a short cut? Remember that your decisions can permanently change how people see you.

Questions To Help Your Team Click With Your Organisation’s Vision

Questions To Help Your Team Click With Your Organisation’s Vision

How To Share Your Organisation’s Vision With Your Team

SUMMARY:

Whatever you’re doing, it’s important to have a sense of purpose. Here’s how to help your team click.

President John F. Kennedy was paying his first visit to NASA’s headquarters. During his tour, he noticed a caretaker mopping the floor in one of the main corridors. The President stopped, shook his hand, and asked what he did at NASA. The caretaker proudly addressed the young President by saying, “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”

This story sums up what employee engagement is all about. The caretaker understood what NASA was aspiring to achieve and why this was so important to the American people. Like everyone else involved in that project, he felt that his contribution, regardless of how large or visible, had a direct connection with the moment that Neil Armstrong took that first step on the moon.

Whether you’re a manager in NASA or any other company, your role is to help your team members see the bigger picture (your organisation’s vision), how the organisation plans to achieve this (the strategy) and how they can contribute to it.

When you’ve communicated this to your team, invite them to share their thoughts and have a discussion. The following five questions can be extremely useful in helping to frame the discussion.

  1. Is the organisation on track to realising its vision?
  2. What are they main challenges?
  3. What benefits will our customers/employees/investors see?
  4. How do our roles contribute to our vision and objectives?
  5. If we are great at what we do, what difference does this make?

These conversations don’t necessarily have definite answers – but they should encourage debate and the discussion of different perspectives.

It’s important to be transparent and open, so continue talking about the vision with your team and reinforcing the connection between the organisation’s vision, strategy and values, as well as what is happening in your day-to-day environment. A great way to do this can be by sharing:

– Progress updates

– Individual/team performance targets being met

– Awards and local recognition

 

Engagement vs Alignment

Engaged employees, who are committed to going the extra mile, will only be fully effective if their actions are aligned with your organisation’s goals and strategy.  Think about your team’s alignment and engagement by using the below model:

 

 

Ideally, every employee should be a Champion of their organisation. They should know the business strategy and exactly how they contribute to delivering results in line with the organisation’s vision. Consider your own team and where individuals would sit on this axis. Could you help them to better understand the vision?

Helping your employees connect with your organisation’s purpose and values

It’s likely that your organisation will have already communicated its vision, strategy and corporate values via your website, intranet and internal communications channels. Whatever language your organisation uses, the strategy should provide you with a clear direction of where your organisation is going and how it intends to get there, including plans to adapt, grow or change in the future. It’s up to you, however, to ensure that your team understands and connects with this vision.

5 Questions To Help Your Team Click With Your Organisation’s Vision

How To Share Your Organisation’s Vision With Your Team

President John F. Kennedy was paying his first visit to NASA’s headquarters. During his tour, he noticed a caretaker mopping the floor in one of the main corridors. The President stopped, shook his hand, and asked what he did at NASA. The caretaker proudly addressed the young President by saying, “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”

This story sums up what employee engagement is all about. The caretaker understood what NASA was aspiring to achieve and why this was so important to the American people. Like everyone else involved in that project, he felt that his contribution, regardless of how large or visible, had a direct connection with the moment that Neil Armstrong took that first step on the moon.

Whether you’re a manager in NASA or any other company, your role is to help your team members see the bigger picture (your organisation’s vision), how the organisation plans to achieve this (the strategy) and how they can contribute to it.

When you’ve communicated this to your team, invite them to share their thoughts and have a discussion. The following five questions can be extremely useful in helping to frame the discussion.

  1. Is the organisation on track to realising its vision?
  2. What are they main challenges?
  3. What benefits will our customers/employees/investors see?
  4. How do our roles contribute to our vision and objectives?
  5. If we are great at what we do, what difference does this make?

These conversations don’t necessarily have definite answers – but they should encourage debate and the discussion of different perspectives.

It’s important to be transparent and open, so continue talking about the vision with your team and reinforcing the connection between the organisation’s vision, strategy and values, as well as what is happening in your day-to-day environment. A great way to do this can be by sharing:

– Progress updates

– Individual/team performance targets being met

– Awards and local recognition

 

Engagement vs Alignment

Engaged employees, who are committed to going the extra mile, will only be fully effective if their actions are aligned with your organisation’s goals and strategy.  Think about your team’s alignment and engagement by using the below model:

 

 

Ideally, every employee should be a Champion of their organisation. They should know the business strategy and exactly how they contribute to delivering results in line with the organisation’s vision. Consider your own team and where individuals would sit on this axis. Could you help them to better understand the vision?

Helping your employees connect with your organisation’s purpose and values

It’s likely that your organisation will have already communicated its vision, strategy and corporate values via your website, intranet and internal communications channels. Whatever language your organisation uses, the strategy should provide you with a clear direction of where your organisation is going and how it intends to get there, including plans to adapt, grow or change in the future. It’s up to you, however, to ensure that your team understands and connects with this vision.

 

Persuading leaders to support your engagement programme: Demonstrating customer success and improving retention

78% of organisations are currently focused on improving employee engagement and the strongest advocates of these efforts tend to be the senior leadership team (CEOs, managing directors or HR leaders)[1].

For businesses that don’t focus on employee engagement, this is often due to challenges such as budget constraints, environments where engagement is not a priority, and insufficient buy-in from senior managers.

Where employee engagement faces the challenge of needing to be supported and championed by leaders, there are some great ways of persuading them that an engagement survey and programme is worthwhile.

The primary reasons for focusing on engagement are to improve morale or culture, as well as to attract and retain talented employees. Almost half of organisations that run employee engagement surveys link the results to people data and/or organisational performance metrics.

A popular metric to link employee survey results to is customer satisfaction, such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS). This demonstrates how engaged employees deliver outstanding service to customers, but only organisations that measure customer satisfaction at a site, office or team level, have the data needed to confirm this.

Organisations with high levels of employee turnover can be helped through engagement initiatives. By conducting an engagement survey, you can understand why people really leave, and which areas of the business are likely to suffer from employees leaving. By running leaver analysis, WorkBuzz can identify the true reasons employees leave an organisation and provide recommendations on how to address these.

“At First Utility, we’re focused on the retention of our employees. We’ve been able to retrospectively analyse employee engagement survey data, linking it to our leaver data to learn more about the true reason why people leave our company. This data has also been used to model how many people would leave the business each year (and even at a departmental/team level), so that we could focus on the areas with the highest attrition risk after every survey we’ve run. By really understanding why people consider leaving the business and engaging with them after the survey to discuss changes to improve these drivers, we’ve been able to improve our retention by 20%.”

John Wrighthouse, Chief People Officer, First Utility

Need more help persuading people that an engagement programme is worthwhile? Request a demo here and we’ll give you a call to discuss your challenges.


[1] https://www.hrzone.com/resources/the-state-of-employee-engagement-in-2018

Managing expectations of your future employees

Over half of respondents to State of Employee Engagement shared that the greatest generational difference likely to affect their organisation in the future was the faster career progression expectations of younger employees.

Millennials and younger generations have heightened expectations for their career progression compared with baby boomers and Generation X. This stems from their high levels of access to technology and expectation of instant interaction.

Imagine growing up in a world where you only just remember having to dial-in to the internet, let alone never having a mobile phone or going to a library to research an answer rather than having the convenience to ‘ask Google’. For these employees, the answers and solutions to problems have always been a click away, and they’ve been able to play games, see how easy it is to achieve success and ‘level up’, all at their fingertips.

Employers need to provide these employees with ways of upskilling and earning badges or progressing through the ranks to demonstrate capability. Rewarding employees through small pay or reward package enhancements is another option to help alleviate these expectations.

As well as these faster career progression trends, meeting expectations of instant change/feedback is another generational difference that is likely to affect business[1]. 4/10 organisations believe that the trend most likely to shape the development of their organisation’s culture was an appetite for instant feedback, and the evolution of technology/automation[2].

These two trends go hand-in-hand as technology now enables instant conversations with celebrities, politicians and world influencers. We are all masters of our own personal brand – sharing the best of our lives through social media and feeling reassured by ‘likes’, impersonal contact points and a count of numbers, rather than comments, as affirmations on our posts.

It is important for organisations to focus their efforts on this and adapt to the changing needs of employees. Employees now expect their businesses to also offer a high level of communication, using new technologies that enable both the employer and employee to have a voice, or a way of communicating in this impersonal style of clicking ‘like’, in a place where they can share their thoughts and ideas with other colleagues in their organisation.

Struggling with generational differences or the changing expectations of employees? Request a demo here and we’ll give you a call to discuss your challenges.


[1] [2] https://www.hrzone.com/resources/the-state-of-employee-engagement-in-2018