CleverControl asked Jeremy Gray, the head of the American subsidiary of a Swiss company how to find out the true reasons of employees leaving, to detect company’s hidden shortcomings and to use the system of psychological preferences to strengthen the team but not let work environment go stale without the inflow of fresh talent.
- Jeremy, why the problem of staff turnover is one of the acutest ones?
- When employees leave a company it is almost always painful and parting with valuable employees is even more so. Because we invest the resources, the money, and the most valuable thing we have – time – in people. And the value of any employee, who came to the company for at least a few days, always increases.
And no matter how valuable employees may be we cannot get the resources spent on them back. That is why the problem of staff turnover is so sharp.
- What are the executives who get upset over frequently losing valuable employees do not know about? What do you advise to pay attention to?
- The value of a good employee is the ability to make his or her own decisions. And if this person tells you that he or she decided to quit, then the decision is already made and there is no point in trying to persuade him or her to stay. It is better to consider the new prospects this departure opens up for you. After all, a former employee is a potential source of positive recommendations. This person already knows the company, and it is possible that he or she recommends it to new business contacts.
Of course, there can also be negative recommendations which are also important to consider. Often managers do not even think about what negative information their former employees might be spreading.
My advice is when employees leave your company, especially valuable ones, do everything possible so that they become active carriers of positive recommendations.
- What chances do companies have in significantly reducing turnover? What do they have to work on?
- To answer this question, we turn to the psychological preferences system. It is about how we can work more effectively. Why is it that sometimes two effective people meet and work absolutely inefficiently. And sometimes two mediocre employees combine efforts on a project and it turns out great.
This subject was studied even by ancient scientists. Hippocrates tried to determine the types of people depending on the so-called bodily fluids that they had. That’s where we got the well known choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic from. First of all, in accordance with the personality type, we define the way people behave in the community. Today in business, there are many systems of psychological preferences, the most popular ones are Disc, Insights, and Myers-Briggs. I, personally, prefer Insights.
A huge number of conflicts that arise in the workplace, including staff turnover, is the reflection of the psychological preferences conflict. Therefore I recommend executives and managers to choose one of the systems and to identify themselves first. Then analyze the employees and draw everyone’s psychological portrait. This way, you will be able to understand what drives your people and to speak with each one of them in his or her own language.
- Another important question is reasons for leaving. Not every employee is ready to talk about them frankly. What should you do to get to the truth?
- When valued employees leave you their decision is final. You are partners with them, and with partners we speak frankly. Such people usually say, "I want you to leave because here I have no more prospects for career development." Thus, I realize that I either have to provide this person with such opportunity or let him or her go and maintain the good relationship. Because for me this person it a potential possibility for a positive recommendation. So I act accordingly.
And then there are the people in whom we invested some resources but from whom we have not yet got back much. When they leave you have to talk to them. Because most likely, these people will be more closed and will not talk openly about their reasons for leaving.
In this case, we should start positively, thank for the work done, and remember all the positive aspects of the work. Thus, we create a positive background to ask the main question - what needs to be changed in the company, to make the employee stay? Maybe the manager should change something in him/herself or in the team, or maybe the structure must change. If I realize that I cannot change anything or I understand that the decision to leave is final, I ask the following question: what should be changed in the company so that such valuable staff members would not quit in the future?
- Is there a risk of the work environment going stale: when you stop hiring new people while working on reducing staff turnover? What would you advise?
- Of course, fresh talent is important for the work team. But we do not need it just for the sake of it. Fresh talent it is new ideas, new projects, new money, after all, it is a new opportunity that we can use to our advantage.
When a company faces a new challenge, the first step is always to look for internal resources. New projects are the reward for those employees who have grown enough to handle them. But when we realize that we will not be able to manage on our own, then we should look for help from the outside of the company.
Of course, there is always the risk of stagnation, but we can fight this risk if we help our employees develop, if we praise them, motivate them, and if we build the principles of our company based on the "chaotic" management style. When our people are changing, evolving, we do not give stagnation a chance.