I started working when I was 14. I’ve had a lot of jobs, and I’ve also had a lot of bosses. I ran the gamut of sandwich artist to lifeguard, and later in life, receptionist to operations manager. During the course of my working life, I started noticing that no matter the job, I was acutely aware of the importance of the relationship between leaders and their teams.
It played into my willingness to give extra effort and ultimately to stay at an organization, what I now know is defined as engagement. Without realizing it, I slowly became an expert on how to lose an employee in 10 months (or less). Thankfully, my job here at Quantum Workplace didn’t turn out to be some sort of sick test like in the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. But if you want to conduct your own test, here are some do’s, or rather, don’ts of managing and retaining employees:
#1 Act super engaging during the interview process and then forget your new employee exists after day one
Isn't it awkward when someone takes so much time to recruit and interview you, share stories, get to know you, and then shortly after your start date, it's as if that person had never met or had a conversation with you? Bosses, don’t act like your prospects’ best buddy to get them in the door and then once hired stop caring, stop getting to know them. Stop caring, and they’ll stop thinking they made the right decision to join your team.
#2 Tell them the job is one thing only to let them find out it's not at all what you described
You're not fooling anyone. Okay, well maybe for a few days. But once a new employee figures out that the pretty picture you painted in the interview process isn't at all what the job entails, you're one step closer to having to start the whole process over again. It makes me think of the fast food places or oil change gigs where someone thought they were simply signing on to sell food or fix cars, but somehow they find themselves standing on a busy street corner in 100-degree weather creatively waiving a sign that says "We're desperate for your business!"
#3 Require absurdities and forego thanking them for their extra effort
I once had a boss who woke me to come in and fix a computer issue at 2 a.m. (to which I somehow solved and to this day I don’t know how…for me, it was a major feat). I came in the next morning not to a thank you, but to a “you should have documented every step you took to solve it so it doesn’t happen again." Sure, I'll give you that. But a thank you would have gone a long way. Just sayin'.
#4 Micro-manage, micro-manage, micro-manage
Trust your employees. Heck, trust yourself. You hired them, right? And you likely did so because you had confidence in their abilities. I once had a boss who insisted on walking me through menial tasks and then proceeded to stand over my shoulder while I did them. I was 25, a college graduate, and pretty confident I knew how to address a letter. But thanks for the extra help!
#5 Lie through your teeth
Pretty self-explanatory. If you find yourself stretching the truth quite frequently to justify daily work, then something just isn’t right, and your employees will always pick up on it.
#6 Forget about motivating your team
Motivation comes in many forms: communication, open-mindedness, and experience, to name a few. Communication should happen at a personal level, not just via email. Get to know your people, and show them you care about their success. Open-mindedness is allowing yourself to take some heat. When you ask for honest feedback, expect honest feedback and resist the temptation to jump to the defensive. Learn from employee input. Experience allows you the ability to know how to answer questions effectively. If you’ve never done your employees’ job, insist that you do. This will lead to respect, and respect for a leader lends itself to motivation.
What I also didn’t realize until much later in life was that I had embarked upon a journey to find the most fulfilling workplace for me. I didn’t give up, and my tenacity paid off when I was contacted by the Best Places to Work organization, Quantum Workplace, to meet for coffee. At that time, I had no idea there were actually organizations whose main focus was to make work awesome—not only for their employees but for other employers as well.
Shortly after my start at Quantum Workplace I learned that “Manager Effectiveness” was (and has been for years) one of the top three drivers behind an engaged workforce. It clicked. I was in the right place. I had the best of both worlds. I now worked for an organization that “ate what they cooked.”
Now, I spend every day shouting from the rooftops how important it is to engage employees and collect their feedback. If you don’t believe me, check out my bio on our website or my overabundance of articles on LinkedIn. I’m a true testament that if you seek it, it will come. I didn’t give up, I tried hard at jobs that well, sucked, and when it made sense, I moved on. I found a company that encourages and cares for the success of its people and in turn guarantees the success of itself.
Our culture rocks, it’s simply awesome. And that’s what I get to do every day; I get to help all organizations make work awesome. I get to help employees feel like what they do matters, that their bosses care, and that there’s purpose in what they do for 8+ hours a day, 5+ days a week. I care about people, and I care about the quality of life we have while we’re here.
Thank you, Jennifer Aaker, for putting into words just exactly how I choose to live my life every day and for inspiring this post:
“When we can cultivate mindfulness and meaning in all that we do, including our work, we have the opportunity to influence not only our own well-being, but also the well-being of our family, friends, coworkers, and wider community.” Jennifer Aaker, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business