It’s a shame to lose good people. But if your team isn’t “sticky” enough, it’s bound to happen again and again. As an executive coach, I love helping leaders build teams and create environments that their employees love to work in.
1. Go somewhere interesting.
The concepts of vision and mission are not fluff. They enable you to communicate to your team the value of the company they are working for and that you, as a team, are all aiming at a destination worth arriving at. If your competitor has a more compelling destination and is better at communicating their mission, your team will start to slip away and join them. A good story and a compelling destination can engage and motivate your team in a way that money never will.
2. Put the right people in the right place working the right way.
Hiring the right people is not quick, cheap, or easy, but it is always worth doing right. Employees need to be competent to fulfill their responsibilities, but they also need to be a fit with the existing team and the culture of your organization. Once hired, it is crucial to provide the amount of structure or autonomy that your new employee requires in order to perform his or her work in a way that works for your organization.
3. Understand others’ personalities and values.
By striving to understand the diverse personalities and values of each member of your team, you demonstrate that you truly care about your employees. Employees need to understand each other on this deep level too and they need to understand what makes you tick as well. The power is in the knowing. The better we understand each other, the less conflict we experience and the more synergy discover in our teams.
Few things are as frustrating as being ignored. When employees don’t have a voice, resentment and anger are sure to follow. Your organization must have a means for people to communicate both positive and negative feedback to the leadership. Then you need to make sure that employees actually dare to use those means of communication and feel comfortable expressing themselves. Lastly, there needs to be a clear, thoughtful response.
5. Build and protect trust.
Nothing breaks a team down faster than a loss of trust. I’m reminded of a Twilight Zone Episode where instead of zapping people with lasers, the aliens simply land outside of a small town and begin manipulating the citizens’ power. Soon neighbors begin to suspect each other of being in league with the aliens and the entire town devolves into a violent mob. Neighbor turns on neighbor and the town burns while the aliens watch from afar and comment on how easy it is to create distrust and paranoia in humans. Drive out fear and suspicion in your organization by creating an open and transparent atmosphere.
6. Incentivize everyone.
Can you blame someone for doing mediocre work when they have absolutely no economic incentive for higher performance? Profit sharing and programs that enable employees to earn equity in the company are excellent ways to ensure that everyone has a vested interest in the success of the company. Only stakeholders take the initiative to solve problems. The act of sharing the firm’s profits builds trust, prevents people from being exploited, and lets employees know that they are valued.