We know that getting staff is often a challenge, but keeping good people once you’ve got them is very much a factor of how the employer manages his or her team – and it’s rarely about the money.
Let’s start from the exit end. Why do people leave their jobs and sometimes the profession? From a survey done by Stephen Taylor of Manchester Metropolitan University, it almost always comes back to the leader:
· Bullying, rudeness, lack of respect or abuse of power.
· Failure to manage (for example, sweeping problems under the carpet, avoiding making decisions, refusing to listen to employee grievances, failing to give feedback, failing to show any appreciation for a job well done).
· Perceived favoritism – failing to treat everyone in a team the same way.
And there’s a further and somewhat invisible problem. Many employers don’t know the real reason for staff turnover. People who leave because of poor supervision tend not to tell their boss the full story. They’re afraid it will jeopardise good references or burn bridges with people whom they like personally. So they soften and hide the real reason for leaving – they say it’s pay rates, time for a change or personal reasons. In the farming sector we must also include the influence of the farmer’s family. The boss might be great but have a partner with no empathy or people skills.
What can we do about it? A positive and productive climate flourishes when people feel valued by their employer. Good bosses do it instinctively, but we all know farms where these basic principles are not applied to workers. (Actually, the same principles apply in all good relationships!)
Four keys to showing that we value someone
- Unconditionally accept them.
- Make them feel as though they belong.
- Encourage a sense of self-worth.
- Believe in their competence.
People die trying to achieve this. When we can accept people just as they are, warts and all, they flourish. No one has the power to change another, but by accepting a person just as they are we give them the power to change themselves.
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel someone doesn’t like you, or you sense they find you unacceptable in some way? Isn’t it uncomfortable! Even when the one sitting in judgment thinks they’ve hidden it, we sense rejection at a gut level. Non-acceptance wounds the spirit.
A few simple strategies:
· Eliminate rigid expectations of how you think another should act or be.
· Don’t be critical and fault-finding.
· Don’t rush in with remedies for what you perceive as their faults.
· Be open to others’ differences – they probably find you ‘different’ too.
· Listen without judgment.
· Keep a quiet detachment – when we become bound up in ‘this is the only way to do it’ we quench others’ enthusiasm.
This is a step up from acceptance – a higher level of interaction. We’re driven to seek connections – to family, friends, support groups, our work team, community, associations, the neighbourhood.
As an employer, how can you foster a sense of community and family with your staff? How can you include them? Smart managers know that if their people have fun together, play together, feel supported, feel they belong, they work better.
This is the sense that ‘I am important.’ Cultivate a climate of mutual respect and appreciation – regardless of status.
· Ask opinions.
· Identify and help your employees work from their strengths, instead of pushing them reluctantly into areas in which they have no natural aptitude.
· Encourage and support them.
· Focus on people first, then on the task.
· Create an ‘us’ climate.
Competence is the sense that ‘I can’. Ensure that your team know and understand their work and can do it efficiently and effectively. Then expect their best work. Many successful people tell stories of bosses or friends who believed them before they believed in themselves. Such encouragement is fertile soil and typically brings outstanding results.
· Give honest, timely feedback.
· Reward and recognise excellence.
· Develop careers and encourage growth even though this may mean they move on. If you’re generous in ‘growing’ young people the word gets out that you’re a good boss. They know other young folk wanting work.