If you’re having to tell your people to work more hours, it’s time to revisit your own leadership practices!

At the beginning of the Mental Awareness Month this year, I would like to draw the attention of leaders to the importance of creating a work environment that prioritizes employee physical and mental health. Relying on financial growth and career progression opportunity alone to motivate people means that they work for you because they have to, not because they want to. Many leaders wonder why their people aren’t bought into their visions and giving their best. People will only do their best in environments where their mental health is not being jeopardized through a series of unreasonable requests or disrespect. As I typically say to my clients, try a little more compassion and kindness.

I was discussing this with one of my favorite clients a couple of weeks ago and he drew my attention to the fact that it took two. As the CEO of the organization, he pointed out that if your “senior leaders are constantly under delivering and hurting the business you may yourself having to pressure them to work harder and put in more hours.” After a short conversation we agreed that feeling the need to manage your employees’ time and workload is a symptom for a bigger issue that requires addressing. Start asking yourself about the balance your work environment provides, mainly related to the following:

  • Competence. How do you feel about the ability of those who constantly under deliver to address the responsibilities you’re assigning to them?
  • Support. To what extent are you supporting your team with their enablers for success?
  • Accountability. How effective are your management practices in establishing and enforcing accountability?
  • Consequences. To what extent do you, your leadership team, and other employees bear the consequences of your own lack of commitment?
  • Engagement. How would you rate the actual buy-in of your vision and why it makes sense for people to do what you’re asking them to do?

Typically, the answer is some combination of all the above. So making everyone work much harder will make the problem fester longer and result in dissatisfaction among those who are actually delivering. If you ask me what to do, I would say do what my client and I are doing: identify and resolve the actual problem(s). And while you’re doing that don’t forget to give your employees the best wholistic employee experience which would encourage them to give you their best performance. Otherwise, they’ll keep doing what will secure their paychecks and protect them from any headache noncompliance may cause.

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The Resignation is GREAT, but are your strategies great enough?

Like many business leaders, many of my executive coaching clients are concerned about their ability to stay afloat, let alone grow in the face of the increasing risk of employee attrition. We can claim that this post-COVID19 phenomenon has caught us by surprise. But we will soon be out of excuses. The global trauma that we all been going through remains a wake-up call for many. And many of your employees may very well wake up to the fact that they do not want to be working for you!

However, it seems that many leaders are still handling the Great Resignation in a reactive manner that falls short of addressing the tectonic shift that it is. Working through this situation with several of the executives I coach, I have become familiar with the temporal nature of this challenge. Therefore, different strategic options emerge different time frames. Below I offer a framework for a more proactive approach for handling the retention challenge.

Immediate: the Departing Employee Matters

The fact that there is a mass exodus from the workforce, some of which without immediate reentry, can just be a symptom for bigger issues. Also, your leavers my continue to be good resources for you. Therefore, consider the following:

  • Take the exit interviews seriously. Beyond being an HR formality, they are an opportunity to learn about challenges to talent retention in your organization. They will be helpful for reducing your attrition rates.
  • Avoid burning bridges with the departing employees. They are important future human resources for you. Your brand as an employee and a business will benefit from their word of mouth. Also, you may be able to establish contract arrangements with some of them to help with easing off the workload and sustaining your operations while you figure out longer term solutions. And, you may stand a chance of attracting your top talent back!

Short-term: Beware of Similar Decisions in the Making

Your exit interviews will provide you with a foundation for understanding the attrition risks you could be facing. Next, I recommend that you engage managers and employees, establishing partnerships to address some basic questions?

  • Who’s next? Who else may be having similar concerns to the leavers and, thereby, contemplating similar decisions?
  • Do you want to retain them? What can you do to retain them?
  • What are the morale and workload implications on those who may be happily choosing to stay with you?
  • What are some creative resource solutions to rationalize the workload?

Medium-term: Work Ethics Matter More Now

Another phenomenon that is emerging is that some employers may now be rushing to refill the open positions so fast that they forget to check on the candidates’ work ethics. In less drastic cases, they may sacrifice the cultural fit. What my clients have learned is that they may loose more time through the damage that a misaligned employee may cause. Eventually, they will have delayed their recruitment of  ‘suitable’ candidates by the few months it takes to recruit, hire, and fire the wrong candidates.

Long-term: Time for Leaders to Play Catch Up

The world has moved on from the “because I said so” leadership style and it’s time for leaders to play catch up. The Great Resignation is here to teach us a few leadership lessons. Leaders now are constantly being challenged to sell the idea of employment to their employees- let alone the idea of working for their organizations and each of them in person. This is probably the subject line for another blog. But what we know for sure is that two sets of long-term strategies must be in question now by most organizations:

  • Talent acquisition, development, and retention strategies
  • Leadership selection and development strategies as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and keep leaders accountable

And, finally let’s keep in mind that “human” resources require authentic and compassionate human leadership that values them and prioritizes their fulfillment and growth!

Whether you’ve been directly affected by the Great Resignation or not, its disruption of workforce dynamics will affect every organization and its leadership. To discuss what it means and how to be more proactive about it, contact us to schedule your free strategy development consultation.