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What is stopping you? 3 misperceptions that prevent you from holding onto talented employees

What is stopping you?
3 misperceptions that prevent you from holding onto talented employees

Copyright © 2006 Marion Stone
Used with permission of the author:
Author: Marion Stone
Cornerstone Connections www.cornerstoneconnections.co.za
22 November 2007

Back to ... Workinfo.com Human Resources Magazine Volume 1 Issue 12, 2007

It fascinates me that many managers or organisations will on the one hand complain about talented people walking out of the door and on the other completely ignore the appeals of their people for development and recognition. Here are three important misperceptions that you should address if you are serious about retaining talented employees.

1. Employees will leave your organisation

In the recent past jobs were very scarce and South Africans have clung onto comfortable corporate jobs knowing that it was likely to be hard to find another one. Times have changed and the economy, while perhaps not on a par with our western counterparts, is solid and growing. Not only that, but a younger generation of workers who haven’t known the lean job market are coming through the ranks and are far less fearful of making job changes if they are not satisfied with the psychological contract.

As managers and organisations we need to realise that we can no longer expect employees to stick with a job no matter how we treat them just because they are too afraid to leave. Some will, but increasingly employees will weigh up their options and perhaps choose to leave. The cost of high turnover in terms of recruitment and development as well as the impact on morale is high.

2. Employees are rarely in it only for the money

So is the psychological contract all about the money? Traditionally it was an exchange of skills and loyalty on the part of the employee for remuneration and stability on the part of the employer. It is the delicate balance between what is expected and can be offered by the employee and employer respectively. Although it can be influenced by money in the short term, this is rarely a long-term solution.

Research now shows (What makes Employees Tick – Feedback from research on the Deloitte Best Company to work for competition, HRFuture, August 2007) that people generally don’t stay in their jobs just for the money. Remuneration is part of what attracts people to the job in the first place and it needs to be fair and market related, but the reasons why people stay are different and include factors such as –

  • Role clarity

  • Meaning in their work (employees connect with the organisation’s purpose)

  • Ability to achieve work/life balance

  • Interesting work

  • Career development

  • The culture and values of the organisation

These job satisfaction factors again relate to the times where a new generation of employees are looking for meaning in their jobs and a link between their personal values and those of the organisation.

Would you take a CEO’s salary to dig a hole and fill it in every day of your lives for the next 20 years? I know there will be at least one ‘wise guy’ who will say yes, but most of us would admit that such a scenario in practice would be extremely dissatisfying!

3. Your managers have the biggest impact on how motivated your employees are

The author Marcus Buckingham, says that employees leave managers and not organisations (First Break all the Rules, Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, 1999, Simon & Schuster)! Quite a controversial statement, but reflect on it. Employees experience the culture of the organisation not from the company vision statement, but how the manager interprets the vision statement within the team.

The vision statement can say "people are our most important asset" but if the manager refuses to allow the employees to attend training or apply for other jobs, then the vision statement is irrelevant to the employee. The message that they actually receive is one of "we don’t want our people to develop; we want them to stay where they are and not make our lives awkward by having to find a replacement for them". The job satisfaction factors mentioned previously are impacted partly by company policies but they are implemented by managers. How are your managers doing? Do you know? Do they have the skills?

If this type of situation is common in your organisation then I have news for you – in the end those people will leave you anyway. However, instead of retaining them in your business you will lose them to a competitor and ultimately that will affect your competitiveness. Just in case you are not convinced, here is a real life story that someone in one of my training workshops shared with us –

“My husband worked for a manager who did not want to lose him. Every time he applied for a different job in another team his transfer was blocked. Every time he asked to attend courses that would broaden his knowledge and prepare him for other roles, his request was rejected. Eventually, frustrated beyond belief, he appealed to HR as his record of performance was very good. HR apparently spoke to the manager but the refusals continued. Another year went by and still no progress. When he approached HR again he was told; ‘I can only recommend that you find another job outside the organisation!’ “

Well, he did. And they promoted him within 6 months because they recognised his ability to perform before he even had a chance to ask for development!

Are you convinced yet? In a today’s environment technology has made more companies equal in terms of efficiencies and the key differentiator has become your people. Are you losing them because you have managers and HR departments who behave like the one’s described above? Think about it!

Marion Stoneis an experienced training and development consultant with over 10 years of experience both nationally and internationally. Her comprehensive understanding of training strategy and practice has been acquired in various sectors including manufacturing, FMCG, construction, media and travel. Her work has focussed predominantly on middle managers although she has worked with various levels within the business from the shop floor to senior managers. Marion holds a first degree in chemistry (UCT) and an MSc in Strategic Training and Development (University of Surrey Roehampton). She is accredited by the South African Board of Personnel Practitioners as a Chartered HR Practitioner. Her diverse background ensures a practical approach to development activities that are joined up with organisational goals and processes. She can be contacted at andwww.cornerstoneconnections.co.za.

Cornerstone Connectionsbuilds connections between the organisation and it’s employees and between managers and their teams. Consultancy and training are offered in the areas of:

  • Talent retention

  • Personal and career development

  • Performance management

  • Coaching and feedback

  • Team effectiveness

Short summary
Employees are no longer psychologically as dependent on organisations as they used to be in a job market where jobs were scarce; to retain them, managers and organisations need to investigate the reasons skilled employees are willing to leave.

Keywords and relevant phrases
Action, attraction, career development, clarity, communication, competitiveness, connection, contract, corporate culture, culture, development, expectations, fairness, implementation, interest, job satisfaction, job scarcity, loyalty, management, market related, meaning, mission statement, motivation, perceptions, performance, performance management, policies, psychological contract, purpose, recognition, recruitment, remuneration, replacement, respect, retention, rewards, roles, skills, skills shortage, talent, talent management, training, turnover, values, vision statement, work/life balance.

Back to ... Workinfo.com Human Resources Magazine Volume 1 Issue 12, 2007

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


C: +27 (0)82 416 7712

T: +27 (0)10 035 4185 (Office)

F: +27 (0)86 689 7862

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