People Who Know How to Swim Will Jump Ship
Employees don't quit their jobs, they quit their bosses
So often when I work with organizations and companies experiencing high turnover, I'm reminded about my article from NJ Business Magazine Competition vs. Cooperation: How small business owners can create engaged employees and high performing teams "… in most cases, employees do not “quit” their jobs; they “quit” their bosses." This equates to the equivalent of training your competitors' employees because you've invested time and money training them and they leave; go work for someone else and because of their experience is in your business, one of your competitors hires them. On top of that you now have to hire someone else and then invest your time (money) in training them until they get up to speed in the job.
The cost to the organization
The problem for businesses, however is the people who possess the necessary expertise and job skills will be the first to leave, as indicated in the image and the ones that stay are sometimes the actual cause of the problem, i.e., managers possessing poor communications and managerial skills which creates job dissatisfaction and an unhealthy workgroup climate.
However, business people and managers often say things like, "I don't know what's wrong with employees today; they're just not motivated to work." My response when consulting with leaders in these companies is that maybe the 'wrong' people are leaving and the 'wrong' people are staying… remember, "people who know how to swim will jump ship and the ones who don't will 'hang' on."
But, what can you do? How do you know? Part of the problem is managers with poor communications and managerial skills can go through many good employees before the problem is identified. The issue may not be that people are not motivated; it is just the manager lacks the communications and managerial skills to identify differing motivational factors to appeal to the employees' motivational drives to trigger their engagement with the organization's strategic mission and goals.
When the emphasis is on retention, however, leaders, managers and employees can learn new communications and managerial skills that tap into these motivational drives and instill the engagement of the organization's members, thereby keeping the valuable expertise within the organization.
Diverse Motivation Factors
People are diverse in what motivates them and drives their behavior. There are five different motivators that act as behavioral drivers. They are as follows:
- Personal Achievement: The drive to personally accomplish major goals. This person is results-oriented and will take risks to push themselves to achieve challenging goals.
- Life Balance: The drive to balance work and non-work activities. This person wants flexible work hours and/or telecommuting, enjoys non-work activities, is not interested in overtime work and places a high emphasis on their personal time.
- Individual Autonomy: The drive to act independently and express creativity. This person prefers to do his or her own thing and be independent. They tend to take the initiative and like to develop new ideas, materials and methods.
- Job Security: The drive to find work that provide security and stability. A person motivated by job security prefers a regular income and a predictable, comfortable, clean and safe working environment.
- Status and Power: The drive to seek out opportunities for recognition, prestige, authority and/or control. This person looks for the opportunity to lead and set direction for others. They prefer visible signs of recognition and prestige and focus on career advancement.
- Relationships and Service: The drive to find opportunities to build strong relationships and be of service to others. This person seeks a harmonious work environment in which they can relate to and help others.
The challenge for business leaders, managers and even colleagues is understanding that everyone's motivational drive is different. If a leader, for example is motivated by status and power, he or she may assume that their team members share that same motivational drive. Typically this might work well if they're accurate in that assumption, however, where the trouble begins is when they're not.
A hypothetical communications misfire
A well-meaning, achievement oriented manager thinks he or she is providing a great opportunity to an employee by assigning a highly visible project requiring a good deal of overtime. The problem here is that this employee is motivated by life balance and is not happy about the assignment because of the additional overtime. The manager is baffled by the employees reaction and thinks, "I would have 'jumped' at the chance for an opportunity like this when I was in that job. What's wrong with these people today? They just don't want to work or they just don't care" and has a negative perception of the employee.
Had the manager understood the employee's motivation towards life balance they might have presented the project to him or her in a different way to appeal to this motivating factor; for example offering the opportunity to telecommute while working on the project or additional time off to compensate for the extra time worked upon completion of the project or at least opened the door to communications and collaborative problem solving.
Time is Money
Whether through individualized coaching or formal classes, additional training and development helps leaders, managers, colleagues and employees to understand one another's motivational and communications styles. As the old saying goes… 'time is money.' How much time is wasted seeking solutions to these kinds of communications misfires in the workplace? How many meetings discussing these 'problem' people occur when the problem is actually a communications issue.
This is not to say problems of insubordination, personnel issues or legal issues do not occur because they do. When they do, however, managers and human resources professionals are better able to handle them because they are not bogged down with managing communications and personality conflicts.
When we invest in training and development we are investing in the future of our business by retaining the expertise we already have, and that investment is the best advertising any company can have.