As chronicled extensively in our 2007 book for managers, Contented Cows MOOve Faster, the workplace social contract has been radically reworked over the last decade, virtually eliminating in the process any semblance of job security, and loyalty between employees and the organization.
In a down economy, this plays out with daily layoff announcements such as the ones this week at financial services giant, Fidelity Investments, and toymaker, Mattel, and a surging national unemployment rate, as reported yesterday. In the process, many organizations engage in the corporate version of binge-purge syndrome not unlike that described in a recent Reuters article about the employment roller coaster at Fidelity.
One thing we don’t hear so much about is the steps taken by workers to minimize the impact of this threat. But the fact that we don’t hear much about it doesn’t mean it isn’t going on. The very instant that we start sounding the alarm bells, everyone goes into self-protection mode, most particularly the very folks you least want to lose. Resumes and Outlook files are updated, and all hands on deck suddenly divert one eye to looking out for selfish interests.
While I will save the sermon about how how short-sighted and destructive this process is, if you as a business manager or owner want to exit the current rough patch with your very best people still on your payroll, there are some very specific things you ought to be doing. Here’s one suggestion:
Make sure you are letting special people know that they are special… not extra-privileged, but valued and appreciated. Here’s how:
1. Make a list of the three best people in your organization.
2. For each person, list the reasons why you think they stay with your organization.
3. Call them in one at a time, tell them what you think of them, and see if their reasons for staying at your place match your predictions. My bet is you’ll wind up having good conversations with them, and your chances of hanging onto a top performer will go up about 50%.
A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com