Do you know what inspires your employees? Do you truly understand what it would take for them to leave your organization? Do you know how they perceive their employee brand/reputation versus how others see them?
If you can’t answer these questions it might be time to sit down and start to get to know your employees and understand who they truly are. Imagine for one moment that two of your critical contributors were to walk into your office and give notice! When an employee has accepted another position with another company 99% of the time it is too late for the save – if you did not see it coming you missed the opportunity to understand what they want from you, the company, and their career. If you are to successfully engage and retain your employees you need to take the time to understand who they truly are.
Having career conversations with the sole purpose of understanding who is working for you = engagement and retention. These types of conversations help you to understand each person’s contributions, unique value, potential needs, and future aspirations. Remember a conversation with an employee does not have to be formal. There are many informal opportunities throughout a week to ask questions and learn about who they are.
Your role as a manager is to:
- Know what energizes your employees to come to work every day.
- Promote knowledge about development options within the organization.
- Identify aspirations, encourage awareness, and create a clear sense of purpose.
- Encourage awareness of your employees’ brand and reputation.
- Help employees understand what their value is to the organization.
I was recently at a very well known restaurant and the owner came over to ask us how we were enjoying our meal. I smiled and said mine was wonderful; however, my husband did not receive a portion of what he had ordered. The owner was so delighted with my response that he didn’t listen to my husband’s response. The owner hurried onto the next table without ever hearing that only half the table was happy with the meal. By not taking the time to truly listen to employees at all levels what information are you missing?
Multi Level Listening
We know it is possible to be in a conversation where the other person hears you but is actually not listening. You need to show up and be present during conversations with employees.
- Listen for what is not being said.
- Observe your employee’s choice of words, tone of voice, and body language.
- Listen not only for the facts and information, but also to understand your employee’s feelings, values, and beliefs.
- Try to spend roughly 80% of the conversation listening, and 20% asking probing questions or reflecting on what you heard.
- Play back what they have said to ensure clarity and understanding (e.g., What I just heard you say is …).
Many people think listening means waiting for their turn to speak. Be sure to avoid this mistake. Use silence when listening:
- “Waiting it out” is a powerful way to elicit information.
- Silence is uncomfortable – let your employee break it.
- Remain engaged through eye contact, posture, etc. to elicit maximum information.
Next Step 3: Inspire Awareness