Why employees need to be engaged
Exit of key talent is always an area of concern for any organization. In emerging businesses, exits are often marked by ad-hocism regarding notice period, notice pay as well as lack of structured exit process
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough they don’t want to” - Sir Richard Branson
While I was browsing through LinkedIn, I came across this interesting quote by Sir Richard Branson (who also happens to be my favourite leader because of his ability to communicate life changing principles in a simple manner)
Having worked in the engagement space for a long time and now actively working with emerging businesses, this one statement probably summarizes a paradigm that most of the leaders in emerging businesses find challenging to envision and execute. It might be a good idea to trace an employee’s journey in a typical emerging business to understand this better:
a) Getting in
The primary driver of a person being selected for a particular role is dependent on two elements: A near perfect fit in terms of experience/skill requirements as well as an intuitive comfort feel that the hiring leader/manager gets during the interviewing process. Competencies, values, leadership potential etc. are talked about but are still not driving the final decision. The other important element is that a sketchy picture is provided for the role, which often results in dissatisfaction later because of the difference in perception vs. reality in the employee’s mind. What might help? Training hiring business leaders how to select the right talent
b) Settling down
It might be prudent to say that most of the emerging businesses have a ‘familiarization program’. There are introductory meetings to explain the role. Unfortunately, the process/schedule is not considered to be sacrosanct by majority of the organizations. Usually, conduct of meetings is dependent on availability of people – any schedule is subject to change. The first priority is to get the person active on the job as quickly as possible. Hence, the organization misses out the opportunity of making a person feel welcomed and wanted as well as communicating what is important from an organizational context What might help? Creating a world-class onboarding process, setting a positive tone for the future
Since this is what the employee is spending majority of his time on, how does the organization enable him/her to effectively discharge his/her responsibilities is perhaps one of the most important components of his/her perception of ‘being treated well’. In an emerging business, this is totally dependent on the effectiveness of the leader – does he/she ensure that the employee have access to resources, information, feedback, functional training etc. Problems arise when you don’t work with an effective leader. Majority of the organizations don’t have ‘speedy, unbiased, capable of protecting confidentiality’ mechanisms, which an employee can use to share ideas/grievances. Small things become big issues because they are never shared / dealt with over a period of time, leading to lower levels of engagement. Coupled with the lack of delegation, you reach a situation where an employee feels that his/her voice is of no consequence, he/she is there only to execute what is coming from the top.
What might help? Institutionalizing effective, open two-way communication cutting across levels for overall alignment and exponential growth; promoting openness and transparency and cutting down employee issues and grievances
“Growth is never by chance: it is the result of forces working together”- JC Penney. As human beings, growth is an important driver of key decisions we take in the personal and professional realm. Every new discovery adds dimensions to our overall thought process. However, we often need people who can hold a mirror in front of us, giving us space and time for reflecting on our successes and achievements and helping us internalize our learnings from a personal and professional perspective. In emerging businesses, the following paradigms dictate the growth strategy for individuals:
- Growth is equal to promotions (viz-a-viz enhancing growth through horizontal expansion of role and responsibilities)
- Under-train, not over-train; restrict the role-leading to high retention but low productivity (rather than providing him best-in-class training and required role enhancement)
- Functional expertise is paramount (rather than focus on behavioral competencies)
- Invest in skills which have a direct business impact (rather than skills which the employee might be interested in acquiring)
- Train a person for the current role (rather than for the future role a person might be playing)
- Learning primarily happens in classrooms (vis a vis cross functional projects, additional responsibilities, recognition of great work/appreciation thereof etc.)
- And sometimes...it is ‘Baptism by Fire’ ; letting people start without equipping them with the right knowledge, leading to business loss as well as adverse impact on employee’s own confidence and credibility
- Last but not the least, Review Meetings = Developmental Conversations (rather than having separate forums to discuss learnings, strengths and developmental needs)
Unless there is a paradigm shift in the way emerging businesses approach learning and development, we will continue to see shortage of effective leaders in this sector.
What might help? Creating a Learning Organization; Promoting ‘Leaders as Teachers’ and ‘On-the-Job’ training in a structured, consistent manner; Having six monthly ‘Development Discussions’
Exit of key talent is always an area of concern for any organization. It is a known fact that exits need to be as well managed as entries in any organization since ex-employees are one of the most important brand ambassadors and any negative sentiment from them can damage the employer brand significantly. In emerging businesses, exits are often marked by ad-hocism regarding notice period, notice pay as well as lack of structured exit process. Once again, the organizations miss the bus in terms of creating a great exit experience, reducing the probability of that talent coming back into the fold or spreading a positive word of mouth due to the recency effect.
What might help? Creating a clear, well defined exit policy and process and maintaining its sanctity over a period of time; ensuring a great ‘separation’ experience
Hopefully, you will be able to relate to some of the points mentioned in this blog and create a difference at your workplace. The time is right, all it takes is a small step in the right direction.