Train Managers to Follow These 8 Tips to Promote Employee Engagement

When a top performer leaves to go elsewhere and your organization is left with a huge void, says management expert Jeff Cortes, it can negatively affect the performance of the whole organization.

Turnover is also very costly, adds Cortes, author of the book No-Nonsense Retention … Painless Strategies to Retain Your Best People. Depending on the study you look at, the impact of turnover ranges from 3 months of salary for a low-level employee to as high as 400 percent of the annual salary of an upper-level person.

“If you are going to maximize your organization’s performance, you have to make a conscious, top-down management commitment to develop a no-nonsense approach to retention,” Cortes says.

Here are his top must-do actions that your managers must be trained to follow for retaining the human assets you’ve worked so hard to acquire:

1. Fire the Slugs. “There’s good and bad turnover,” Cortes says. Firing a nonperformer—a slug—is good turnover. Identify the nonperformers and confront them with the problem, Cortes says. If they don’t solve it, terminate them with respect and dignity and replace them with someone who does what is truly desired and required for the role and position they are in. And here’s the big bonus from firing slugs—your good performers will love you. For sure, they’ve been stewing about having to carry most of the slug’s load.

2. Manage Visibly. Get out of your office. Begin each day by walking around. Stroll around the floor several times a day. Meet the customers, talk with employees, greet the vendors, help the delivery trucks load and unload. Let people know you are there. If they like you, they are less likely to leave you. Visibility drives retention.

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3. Care About Your People. Similarly, if you don’t really care about your people, the business is doomed. Caring is the reason people stay. Get to know your people. Learn what each person likes and enjoys. Listen to them and learn about their interests, families, and hobbies. Protect your people from harm and from others in your organization. Employees are loyal to those who care about them and for them.

4. Keep Your Door Open 80 Percent of the Time. Let your people know you are accessible to them, Cortes says. Avoid telling people to make an appointment or come back later. Make sure the time you do spend with your people is quality time, he adds.

5. Actively Focus on Employee Assistance. Sit down with the other managers and supervisors in your organization and identify the problems that are faced by people in your workforce. Develop innovative ideas and deploy specific new plans to provide employees with more flexibility in their work, support for their common needs, and help for dealing with personal issues that impact their life.

6. Treat Everyone with Respect Always. Every manager and supervisor must set the standard that respectful behavior and sincere open appreciation are expected with no exceptions, Cortes says. Investigate and take immediate action of all nonrespectful behavior incidents. And take an active step: Bring food to be shared on a regular basis. “Break bread with your people regularly instead of forcing people to eat baloney,” Cortes says. The point here is that you lead by example.

7. Ask Your People What They Want. Also remember to ask people what they want out of their work. Identify how they want to grow so you can help them develop greater control, autonomy, and responsibility for the work they do for you. Help them achieve these goals specifically and incrementally. “Meaningful engagement in their own future drives commitment and loyalty,” Cortes says.

8. Tell Your People What You Want of Them. Make sure you explain in clear and specific terms what you expect of them. Give them the tools, support, and time they need to get the work done. If they do not meet your expectations—assuming the expectations have been clearly communicated and they had the resources to satisfy them—bring them in to find out what it will take to get them on track.

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