First, a confession, in the early years of our business it was not uncommon to hire 10 recruiters to find one who could and would be successful. It was an undesirable “fact of life” or so I thought. High employee turnover was to be expected. In-fact it became a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts. We were very slow to fully embrace our employees fearing we would become attached only to be hurt by their “inevitable” departure.
Then I read the book “First, Break All The Rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup Organization. The book is based on a research study involving 80,000 managers across a wide range of industries. From a business perspective it “rocked my world” in a dramatic and positive way. As we worked to apply some of the key principles from the book we found that individual performance improved dramatically, employee turnover dropped and revenues and profits soared. Our company’s culture fundamentally changed.
Some of the key take aways from the book included:
- The best managers treat every employee as an individual, they motivate others by focusing on strengths, not weaknesses.
- If you have an employee turnover problem look first to your managers. People leave their immediate managers, not the companies they work for.
- Set the right outcomes, not steps. Standardize the end but not the means. As long as the means are within the company’s legal boundaries and industry standards, let the employee use his own style to deliver the result or outcome you want.
- The great manager mantra is people don’t change that much. Stop trying to put in what nature left out; instead draw out what was left in, that is hard enough.
Finally concerning employee performance:
“Without satisfying an employee’s basic needs first, a manager can never expect the employee to give stellar performance. The basic needs are: knowing what is expected of the employee at work, giving her the equipment and support to do her work right, and answering her basic questions of self-worth and self-esteem by giving praise for good work and caring about her development as a person.”
What have these principles, successfully applied, meant to our employees and other stake holders? Unprecedented career satisfaction as well as millions of dollars in earnings.