Treat Your Employees Like a Customer

In another featured article, I opined about Employee Turnover And Its Staggering Costs and today I’ll opine again… and share some ideas on how to keep your people. Remember that satisfied employees equate to satisfied customers… low employee turnover equates to low customer attrition! Not only is reducing turnover the right thing to do, it’s the profitable thing to do! Here are some tips:

Hire the right people in the first place – This is the most important thing a manager can do. Not only is it imperative to seek out (yes, that means you MUST recruit!) and to develop talent, retaining that talented person is even more important. Here’s a strategy: You should hire someone as if you were going to marry them. That’s right— this means that you should go on more than just two or three “dates” (interviews) with the prospective employee. Otherwise, you could be doing the “walk of shame” after a one-night stand.

Please realize that the person you are thinking of hiring will not change after you “marry” (hire) them. Think of the person you hire as Ronnie Van Zant singing “”Freebird””….. “and this bird you cannot change.”

The more talent on your team, the better your chances of success as a manager. A talented team translates into growth, consistency and opportunity. However, very few managers seek out talent… most managers only do it when they have a “job opening” or if someone calls them for an interview. This is a big mistake.

You should think very carefully… and very judiciously before you contemplate firing someone you hired. After all, it was you that made the decision to hire the person in the first place. Putting a bullet in someone’s head to give upper management the sense you are solving a problem is only a short term solution.

Aside: Have you ever noticed that the most pitiful managers have to vilify an ex-employee after they have left the company (regardless of whether they were fired or not)? This is in spite of the fact that the “villain” was hired by the manager in the first place! What does this tell you about the manager’s judgment if manager made the decision to hire that terrible person in the first place?

Have a good relationship with your people- I know this goes against conventional management wisdom, but take this one to the bank… the better your relationship with your people, the better you will understand their needs and understand what your “customer” (employee) wants and strives for to remain in your employ.

If a manager does not care what an employee’s needs are, then this is clear evidence that someone needs to replace the manager.

Put the right people in the appropriate roles- Make sure that you are asking people to do the things they do well. Using a person’s strengths will yield results. An individual’s limitations should be made irrelevant if the manager is wise enough to limit employees’ involvement in tasks in which they do not excel. In other words, do not ask people to do what they are incapable of doing… as the old saying goes: “Never teach a pig to sing… it only wastes your time– and it frustrates the pig.”

Create the right environment- Creating a “free and fun” environment is important to reducing turnover and in keeping employees motivated. A manager cannot motivate individuals (individuals must motivate themselves). HOWEVER a manager’s responsibility is to create the environment where individuals can consistently motivate themselves. Freedom, which is a derivative of trust, is essential for the most talented people to excel. A gloomy or authoritarian environment makes it almost impossible for even the best people to motivate themselves.

Make sure expectations are clear- Expectations must be clearly developed by collaborating with each individual. Yeah, that’s right… employees need to “buy in.” Each employee must know the “role” you envision them playing. This is critical in achieving maximum results. When an individual has a clear goal to hit, (whether it is numerical– pertaining to budget attainment, or related to personal growth) their conviction to hit those goals will be magnified exponentially if they participated in a collaborative goal-setting process. Do your people have job descriptions and a game plan?

Take calculated risks- Make decisions based on facts— not on personal opinions. Avoid knee-jerk and impulsive decisions, especially when things aren’t going well. Don’t mortgage your future just to relieve a situation short-term. Absorb losses, regroup, attack your current strategy, repair the weaknesses and adjust. Then move on with conviction. Long term focus is key to success. Very few managers can think past the current month and this perpetuates an unstable situation.

Operate an organization that is consistently ethical and respectable- There must be some non-negotiable standards, and it is incumbent on management to set these standards and to eliminate management subjectivity. A manager shouldn’t put him or herself in a position to be “Judge Wopner” in unclear situations… the manager should have policies in place for situations that preclude the need to “get out the gavel” and decide on day to day activities. “Situational ethics” has no place in business, and subjective management decisions (especially involving personnel) undermine trust among the entire staff. Decisions should be made on business criteria– related to the mission and goals of the organization— not based on whether a manager has personal feelings about specific individuals or clients. The issue at hand should be the concern, not the personalities involved.

These are tips that can help reduce employee turnover—- if you can reduce employee turnover and increase employee job satisfaction, then client satisfaction will increase and customer attrition will decrease. Employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are inextricably connected.

(Reposted from an earlier post)

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