How to make sure your best people quit

I’m somewhat shocked when leaders are surprised someone has resigned on them. I’ve had my fair share of people resign on me. Rarely have I been shocked. One of my very first bosses told me to regularly have 1:1s with ALL of my people. I’ve listened – so perhaps that has helped reduce the shock because I’m usually pretty aware of what people are frustrated about.

So a friend shared this post with me and it resonated with me, because as a human resources professional, I believe some of these things should be common sense teaching for leaders, especially when they are new (either to leadership in general, or to the organization/department they’ll be working with).

A theme throughout this article seems to be that we need to understand the individuality of each person. Their strengths, what they’ve done well, where they need to improve, whether they’re fun-loving or serious – and utilize this information to address the things – proactively – that may cause them to leave in the future.

Check it out: Top 10 ways to ensure your best people will quit

workplace bliss

When you describe your workplace, does the word “bliss” come to mind?

Bliss – in its purest form…

(You probably want cookies like I do now. Sorry about that.)

Upworthy.com recently posted an infographic about workplace happiness, including the “5 happiest jobs in America” – the results of which were quite shocking to me.

It’s well worth the 2-3 minutes it’d take to look at it. Let me know if you agree with the findings, and/or share your personal thoughts/reactions!

“overqualified”?

In today’s crazy job market, you hear all kinds of stories of people who are “overqualified” working in certain jobs – the PhD making mochas at Starbucks, the gal with the Masters degree in Education working as a cashier at Starbucks.

However, for some people, their education and experience is preventing them from being able to get work – and sometimes ANY kind of work – because employers say they are “overqualified”. I’ve heard some friends express frustration at this, and I myself have had some conversations around this recently due to my education/experience combined with my current role. I’m not afraid to prove myself and climb the ladder, as it were. And many of my peers aren’t, either.

But as this article so eloquently states, typically the “overqualified” line means something else: perhaps they’re afraid they can’t pay you enough, or you’ll leave as soon as you find something better, etc.

So if you’ve ever heard this line from a recruiter/HR person, or have delivered it yourself, check out this article and let me know if you agree or not. (Here is the author’s referring article, posted recently on LinkedIn, if interested.)

Motivating employees

I’ve had some interesting conversations over the years with regards to motivating employees, ranging from putting the entire onus on the employee (“why should we help to “motivate” them? They should do [x,y,z] because it’s their job/they’re lucky to be here/etc!”) to not putting enough accountability and ownership on the employees to be self-motivating (this often looks like micromanagement/”babysitting”/etc).

Like most things, I do believe there’s a level of responsibility that the leadership has to take in helping employees stay motivated. I’m an incredibly self-motivated, self-accountable person. But I will work EXTRA hard for leaders who do these 3 things that Rosabeth Moss Kanter discusses in her article in the Harvard Business Review titled, “Three Things that Actually Motivate Employees“.

These 3 things – mastery, membership, and meaning – I’ve heard discussed in countless other articles and I myself have discussed it with people I’ve led and who have led me. For people to be truly engaged and motivated, they need to feel like their boss/employer wants them to learn, grow, and develop (mastery); they want to feel that their individual strengths are valued as a part of a team (membership); and they want to know that what they’re spending hours and hours every week doing matters (meaning). For some, this may be a tie to the mission/values of the organization. For others, they just don’t want to feel like Milton in “Office Space” and feel undervalued and dispensable. So tell them you appreciate what they do and that they’re doing a good job.

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If you truly talk to  your employees, you’ll most likely find they WANT to do a good job, they WANT to be motivated, they WANT to be noticed for the work they’re doing. But if leadership refuses to invest in them with training and development opportunities (and ones they want and are excited in – we’re not just talking about mandatory trainings here), and they don’t feel like their individual strengths are acknowledged and valued (are we expecting clones of a certain high performer rather than letting people perform in their areas of strength?), and if they don’t feel acknowledged for what they ARE doing, it’s very easy to quickly zap an employee’s motivation. No one wants to work in that kind of environment.

What about you? What motivates you as an employee?

generational differences brouhaha

I just finished graduate school with a Masters in a part of the HR field. We talked a LOT about generational difference in the workplace; it’s kind of important to understand if you’re going to be training, developing, and mentoring employees somewhere. But it feels like news articles and twitter posts and LinkedIn articles are bursting at the seams with this article or that article about generational differences in the work place.

Case in point, this tongue-in-cheek video that a grad school colleague shared about what it’s like to work with the millennial generation.

(Out of respect to my colleague I should note that he does not believe these things about millennials.)

Although tongue-in-cheek, this video is actually quite offensive to millennials, but is HILARIOUS to most boomers and Gen-Xers who are like, “yeah that’s what it’s like!”

I’m a “cusper” – I fall right on that line between Gen X and Millennials, depending on what study you look at and where the age break is, but typically more towards the Gen X side. But in thought process and mindset I’ve typically always identified more with the millennials than Gen-Xers. (That’s a post for another day.)

So in response to the above video, the same grad school colleague shared this article, which is well worth a read. No seriously. Read it.

And my dear friend and mentor posted this blog post sharing his frustrations about how somehow, in workplaces today, slander and bias against generational differences is still allowed, even though for the most part we’ve stood up for and have policies against slander and bias against gender, race, religion, etc. (Although yes yes – policies may exist but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect or always followed up on. I get it.)

My true millennial-generation friends are quick to point out that not everyone fits these negative stereotypes and, as a matter of fact, this generation seems to care more about social and environmental issues and what all of that means for future generations than any other living generation.

But to the non-millennials (which really includes myself): calm the heck down. If you’re the parent of a millennial and you’re frustrated that millennials seem entitled, remember that it’s partially your fault. Realize that this is the most educated generation in history and that their parents and grandparents and society in general have been telling them for years that “they can do anything they set their mind to” (which is a falsehood of falsehoods) and “a college degree means you’ll get a good job” and “the right person is out there for you”, and they’re finding as they enter their 20s that this is not really the way it is. When you’ve graduated college with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt because your parents or teachers told you “you need to go to college to get a good job”, and you end up selling coffee or bath soap for $8.50/hr and living in your parents’ house because you literally can’t make enough to pay for rent and your student loan payment (which is probably close to a rent payment by itself), and you realize that your degree in music or literature or history or psychology isn’t going to get you anywhere, you’re going to get really frustrated. And yes you may sound entitled, because you’ll say things like “I worked my butt off for a degree and I’m selling soap for $8.50/hr.” That’ll make you sound ungrateful. In reality, they feel duped. The preceding generations have screwed up the economy and the government is jacking up their interest rates for loans and they’re looking down the barrel of feeling like they’ll never dig out of this hole.

So let’s stop dogging the millennials. In fact, let’s stop dogging any generation. It’s age discrimination. Let’s realize there are lazy lazy baby boomers and there are millennials who work their knuckles to the bone and are trying to just get out of the red. Let’s realize that there are some millennials who aren’t comfortable with technology and there are boomers who are all about telecommuting, social media, flex time, etc. Let’s understand where people are coming from and help people work from their areas of strength and passion.

And to my generation, the Gen-Xers – well, there’s a post for you another time. :)

Shared values > A resume

Taken from Simon Sinek’s TED talk entitled, “First why and then trust” (paraphrased):

If we need a babysitter and have 2 options – one being the 16 year old down the street who we know but who has little if any babysitting experience and the other being the 32 year old who just moved to the neighborhood and has numerous years of babysitting experience, who are we going to choose?

The 16 year old. Mind blowing. We’d rather trust our children – our most valuable possession – with someone from within the community with NO experience, OVER someone with vast experience but we don’t know their background or what they believe.

So why do we do it differently at work?

“Why are we so preoccupied with someone’s resume and where they’ve worked and what they’ve done for our competition, and yet we never think to consider what they believe and where they’re from? How can we trust them? How can they trust us?”

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I’ve been extremely preoccupied with reading about trust in organizations, thus why I chose to do my practicum on just a tiny piece of the puzzle. I’m sure I’ll share more as the days and months go by. :)

Simon’s TED talk is well worth the listen. Check it out.

Whew it’s been awhile!

Hello friends! I’ve been quiet on the blogging front. I went back to work full-time and am wrapping up my graduate degree within the next 2 months (glory!) so my time has been occupied by that for the past several months.

But I’m coming across some great material as I work on my practicum about trust, so I’d love to share some of it as I find it.

I won’t promise regular updates yet. Life will be insane for still a couple more months. But some things are too good to not share.

Blessings to all!