Over the past several months, an alarming number of leaders have shared with me about the challenges they are facing with attrition. Some are particularly disheartened saying, “What can I do? I can only control so much.”
There is no doubt that employee engagement and retention connect to a host of factors that are out of our control. But even if you feel like a managerial cog in a gargantuan corporate wheel, there still are a number of things within your control that you can do to have an impact.
It has been said that people join companies but leave bosses. There’s no doubt that’s true. Fundamentally, if we’re a pain to work with, when the market is flooded with demand, folks are going to walk in a hurry. Obviously, if we’re an over-demanding, self-adulating, credit-stealing, unrealistic, legalistic, out-of-emotional-control narcissist, “our” people won’t be “our” people for long! But the purpose of this article is not to talk about those reasons for attrition at all. I want to take a few moments to talk about what you can do when you are a good boss and your people are still leaving.
To begin, let’s again set aside all of the things that are out of your control – things like unfavourable decisions by executive leadership, limited salary or promotion structures defined by the company, promotion “bell curves” which limit your ability to promote despite the fact that you have more than your “allotted percentage” worthy of a hike and so on. Beyond these obvious ones, your organisational ecosystem may be laden with (many) other conditions which act as deterrents to retention. In fact, it is possible that your executive leadership may tom-tom “retention” and “engagement” but simultaneously clip your wings to solve the very problem they are asking you to fix. Let’s put all of that aside! Beyond all of these things which are largely out of your control, what is within your control?
One of the most valuable tools within your control is to leverage behavioural science to better understand the unique motivators of each of your employees so that you can connect with them at a level beyond the commercials. A great place to begin is to familiarise yourself with any of the many four-quadrant psychometric tools (e.g., Social Styles, DISC, etc.) and create a customised engagement strategy for each employee. While this approach is incredibly effective with any stakeholder (supervisors, clients, direct reports, etc.), I’d like to focus our attention in this article on how to apply one of these tools specifically to heightening employee engagement for the purpose of retention.
Let’s begin by just understanding the basics. If you are unfamiliar, four-quadrant psychometrics essentially classify people into four categories. Since Social Styles and DISC are the most prevalent, I’ll use that nomenclature for explanation. The four basic types are:
• Driver / D
• Expressive / I
• Amiable / S
• Analytical / C
Most of us are a mix of at least two of these types and many are a blend of three. When we’re talking of focusing on leveraging this science for retention, we particularly want to focus on the one or two personality types that are most prevalent.
Obviously, it is beyond the scope of this small article to get into the minutia and nuances of these models. But, here are a few thoughts to help get you started:
Well, I hope this small bit helps. As I said, this is only the starting point of how behavioural science can be leveraged in effective stakeholder management for the purpose of retention.