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Andrew Amrhein

People are our most valuable asset. Well trained and experienced employees that live your company’s culture are invaluable. The same can be true for younger and newer employees who might not yet have the experience but are a value fit for the organization. They represent your company’s future. As a result, when an employee you value leaves or quits, it can be a big hit to your team. So how can we prevent this? Why do great employees leave? According to the book, First, Break All the Rules, the #1 reason employees leave is because of their direct manager. Simply stated- employees leave managers, not companies.

Do you remember the bad managers of your past? The manager who acted like people were always part of the problem and the obstacle to solutions. The anxiety of going to work knowing you have to deal with a negative manager can be torture. They can create a toxic environment and a deep lack of trust and fear at work. An individual can only deal with that environment for so long- they will soon look for the exit.

All human beings, regardless of pay, want to feel that the leaders they report to care about their future and are looking out for their best interest. Call it the Human Factor. When that’s the case, trust and cooperation grow. These positive experiences build on one another and keep employees long-term. What’s more, all of your systems and processes are run by people. Tasks are accomplished through the combined effort of the team. There’s more work than one person can do alone. In contrast to the manager mentioned above, people are the solution; the problem is the problem. It is often hard to keep that perspective.

A practical application of this involves your crews and giving correcting or negative feedback. We always try to teach Crew leaders that their crew is very much like a clean slate. The Crew Leader has the chalk in their hand and he or she will leave lasting marks on that slate. The question we ask is, “Are the marks you are leaving good ones?” Are they meaningful instruction, or claw marks from the dragon?

If we care about the development and growth of employees, then we have to give feedback – both positive and negative. Seeing people as the solution, not the problem, influences “how” we go about delivering it. The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard has great examples. The key point is this: the person receiving the correction must know and trust that feedback comes from a desire to see them succeed and is in their best interest. It’s the “Coach”, who is tough and relates to the players they are providing feedback to; versus the “Dictator” who states the feedback and walks away frustrated. Become the “Coach”.

Some things to think about as you process this topic –

  • Are your company values documented? Are these “aspirational” values, or are you truly living them day-to-day? There is a difference between who we think we are and how we actually engage- make sure to check on this truth.
  • Are these values cascaded down through your team? Are your managers living them and leading your employees through these values? Are the Crew Leaders taking a “Coach” approach with their team?
  • Do employees have an “eager want” to work at your company – and for their direct managers? How do you know? If so, great job! If not, change is needed… quick!

Answering these questions positively requires putting the person in front of you on equal footing with the tasks to be done – prioritizing them both equally. Remembering that people are the solution puts you closer to being the Coach, not the Dictator. The Knight, not the Dragon.

All the best,

Andrew Amrhein

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