You Don’t Really Love Me – I’m Leaving!

I occasionally joke in training programs when the topic of motivation comes up, that being married does not motivate people to stay married. Many folks (OK, more men than women, but that’s just been my experience; yours may differ) think that marrying someone is the best indication of “I love you” that there is. Once accomplished, it doesn’t really have to be said again.

When I say that out loud, program participants and audiences laugh. But there is also some recognition that perhaps they have not done enough to make their partner feel loved. Today’s Managers and Executives are beginning to notice that providing employment is not the same things as motivating your people. And if you don’t show them that you ‘love’ them – as the economy improves, they will leave.

It doesn’t have to be that way. While you can’t undo the months of neglect and challenge while everyone was holding on with their fingernails, you CAN do some things that matter – and matter right now:

  • Know What They Want – Don’t guess about what you think they want or assume they are like you and want what you want. Ask them what they would find motivating. And while you are at it – ask them what de-motivates them. While you can’t promise anyone a job that is free of unhappiness, you can at least know what hurdles may be placed in their way.

  • Stop the Buck – It’s not HR, or the Board of Directors, or the compensation committee, or the CEO (unless that’s you!) who is in charge of retaining your employees – it’s you! Most studies indicate that allegiance (as well as disloyalty) for employees lies with their manager. YOU are the one in charge of keeping your good employees.

  • Get Out of Their Way – Most employees are eager to build a positive future with the organizations they work for but if you are not helping them crate that attractive future you may be standing in their way and obstructing them from opportunities. They aren’t interested in tryin to change you – they’ll simply leave.

  • Inclusion – Do you respect your employees and make them feel welcome or do your prejudices get in the way. Everyone can make occasional prejudgments about others (parents won’t stay late; women avoid conflict; people in their 20’s can’t relate to customers in their 60’s) but if it stops you from valuing the human resources who report to you, they probably feel that.
  • Go to Grow – If employees think that there is only a small chance for them to grow professionally, whether it is in terms of a paycheck, a title, skill development. or responsibility, they will leave. You lose the investment of time and money, the potential they could have made in the future and you might have provided the competition with an advantage.
  • Or Else – If you make your employees choose between work and home, it creates stress and resentment. While it often can come down to a difficult choice, as adults, it’s theirs to make. Punishing them for not choosing as you want or as you would makes you act like a punishing parent, and it may cause them to act like kids.

The economy is not improving in leaps and bounds and those of us who have been hanging on may need to continue to hang on. Don’t forget to hang on to your employees too.

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