There is so much information in our world. So much of it is rubbish. Have you ever dwelled on something you read or learned and wished everyone knew it too?

Have you ever heard the old saying, “I don’t want to train my employees because they leave?” The troubling corollary to this statement is that “I prefer not to train them so they stay.” Yikes! The logical flaw here is obvious. Who wants to retain untrained employees? The challenge is how we retain trained employees.

The Gallup organization is world renowned for survey and market research. In 1990, authors from Gallup (Buckingham & Coffman) published, “First Break All the Rules.” It is one of my favorite business books with lots of useful information and knowledge. Yet, I have reflected for years on the wisdom that was presented on page 28. OK, don’t go to the library and rip that page out; buy the book! The rest of the book is great, but allow me to share the wisdom taught on employee retention.

Gallup surveyed over 80,000 managers in 1.5 hours surveys. They came up with 12 questions that measure the core elements needed to attract, focus and retain employees. Even more important, they reinforced that the first two questions are THE MOST IMPORTANT.

How often do we find two simple questions that can answer an important problem like – qualified employee retention? If your employees can answer these two questions positively, then you are far less likely to have employee dissatisfaction and turnover.

  1. Do I know what is expected of me?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job?

Holy cow, that was easy! Take a few minutes and ask your team members those two questions. Their answers clarify what you need to be doing. If they can’t communicate what is expected, help them clarify it verbally and in writing. Depending on how your team members answer question two, you may need to help give your team what they need to be successful.

Sometimes the answer is easy. “I need a new ­­­_________ because the one I have is not working for me.” Other times it is more complex. Remember to listen to what is behind the words. Often what they don’t say is more important than what they do.

So, listen carefully and remember that knowledgeable employees are developed from experience and formal training. Fortunately, there are lots of formal training opportunities available in the industry.

The better you define what is expected of an employee and give them what they need, the more likely they will remain on the team and be successful. Their success is your success.

Here’s a bonus. The two questions above are the most important. But, here are a few more tips from Buckingham & Coffman:

  • Give regular positive recognition Encourage their development (They may not ask for training for fear of looking ignorant)
  • Take their opinions seriously
  • Communicate how their job is important
  • Encourage friendship at work
  • Talk about their progress
  • Find opportunities to learn and grow

It is wonderful and inspiring to me when I find some wisdom in the piles of information and rubbish. I hope this helps you have a more prosperous year!

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