One-third of new hires quit their job within the first six months of getting hired. Just say the word “retention” at work, and you might actually see executive team shudder. I have never believed this should be how organizations function--and it doesn’t have to be if you believe in coaching and knowing your team beyond their work.
Try to imagine, just for a minute, your workforce in an entirely new light. You are their coach, and they joined your company for personal reasons, perhaps to advance their career, or maybe because they’re very passionate about the problem your company solves.
The minute they walk through the door on their first day, I believe it’s your job to do more than manage. If you want your employees to stick around long-term, you must step up to the plate as their coach.
Why Managers Matter: Hiring, Engaging and Retaining
Only 33 percent of employees knew whether they would stay with their company long-term after their first week. I believe this one-third of the workforce, unfortunately, likely lacked managers who shared the company strategy, vision and goals right away. Managers can be an organization’s greatest asset if they know how to set employees up for success.
The first month can be an opportunity for a manager to get to know new employees and set clear expectations for their roles and expected outcomes. The “fresh car” smell of a brand-new job will become quickly replaced by disengagement and boredom if employees fail to recognize their purpose within your organization.
A recent Gallup study found that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Poor management is directly correlated with disengaged employees. As I wrote in a post on boosting morale to keep your best employees around for longer, making employees’ work meaningful will get them to stay longer than perks like free beer and lunchtime ping pong tournaments. Engagement and retention go hand in hand, and coaching is your tool to bridge the gap.
How to Coach Employees for the Long Haul
Building your team by coaching individuals to become even better at their jobs benefits your company with more than a spike in your retention rates. At BetterWorks, we like to say we help employees get 1 percent better at their jobs in a year.
If every individual within an organization finds a way to become 1 percent better each day, or 37x better by the end of the year, imagine the sort of results you’ll achieve. Here’s my five tips for coaching employees with long term retention in mind:
1. SET CLEAR GOALS EACH QUARTER
The first step to making coaching possible is setting aspirational expectations. You should give your employees feedback on the goals and metrics they set, but also the freedom to come up with their own plan for achievement. This should be done every quarter, so they are given the chance to change their priorities and set fresh goals. Once the expectations are clear and mutual, it makes day-to-day management feel easier. Setting shared goals that are well aligned with your own goals is equivalent to doing the delegation up front. It also makes it easier to be flexible on the small things, like when employees need to be out for an appointment, or want to take a long lunch. They know what work they’re expected to do.
2. LET EMPLOYEES CREATE INFORMAL NETWORKS
Try not to inhibit interaction between those you manage and those you don’t. While you may be managing a team of people, the real magic happens when your employees are empowered to work cross-functionally with others. Your company should operate under one shared vision so no matter who works together, they’re doing so with the same end goal in mind.
3. SYNC UP REGULARLY
I perform weekly 1:1 meetings with each member of my team. These meetings look different for each person, and although the day and item are consistent, the content of the meetings changes quite frequently based on their bandwidth and what they need help with.
One week it might look more like a discuss about their future goals and aspirations while we take a walk outside to grab coffee, while another week it might look like a deep dive into feedback on a particular project they’ve spent time on. These regular meetings give me a platform to give employees real feedback on their goal progression.
4. GET TO KNOW YOUR EMPLOYEES BEYOND THEIR WORK
More than likely, their aptitude for your company or business is why you hired someone in the first place, but it shouldn’t stop there. For them to continue progressing, it’s helpful to know where they stand outside of work and more importantly, where they want to be in the future.
I’m not recommending you become great friends with each employee, but you’ll find the more you see them as a real person with a life outside of work, the easier it will be to work together and take a more flexible approach to managing them.
5. MAKE SOME FRIENDS WHILE YOU’RE AT IT
I believe the biggest secret to successful management is fostering genuine relationships with those you manage. Managers should have friends at work and it’s okay if you’re friends with the people you manage. For managers and employees alike, having a group of people you can call friends at work make it worth showing up each and every day. As long as you have an open and transparent system in place for sharing goals and accomplishments, managers can foster relationships while remaining unbiased.
Building teams to last requires more than knowing what everyone is up to, and telling them what to do next. Managers who coach employees with their individual potential and future success in mind will do a more effective job building their team. And as employees understand and appreciate the true value of an ongoing opportunity to learn and grow, they’ll think less about leaving and more about how they can become even better at their job.