Wednesday, December 14, 2011

7 Questions to Ask, to Keep Your Good People!

Having a tough time keeping good people? Are you sick and tired of having to constantly hire and retrain? Is it draining your energy, and costing you a fortune? If so, read on.

Part of my work involves leading teams of highly qualified, technical experts who have significant experience within a very targeted niche. If any one of them left, it would be disruptive and very time consuming and costly to replace them.

When this realization occurred, I felt vulnerable. Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized how little I knew about each of my team members in-terms of what's truly important to them. In the absence of knowing that, I figured my odds of experiencing turnover would be greater. With this in mind I proceeded to schedule 1-to-1 meetings with each team member.  After setting the stage, I asked them following questions, with desire to learn what's truly important to them, and what they were feeling and thinking in-terms of where they are and what they are doing.
  1. What do you want out of your life and how do you see this position helping you?
  2. When you think of your work, your career, what's most important to you? 
  3. What do you like about your work, and your being part of this organization?
  4. What don't you like?
  5. What would make your job more enjoyable for you, and support you in your goals?
  6. What would cause you to start to think about moving on?
  7. Going forward, how would you like me to support you?
While thankfully, overall team members were happy, here's some of what they said as to what more could be done to make 'em happier:
  • I want to get experience in managing people
  • I no longer want to manage people
  • I want to learn new things
  • I want to teach
  • Recognize me privately, not publicly
  • I want to go part-time
  • I want to do more research
Notice that not a single person said anything about wanting more money.  While couple did say that they would welcome more of it, that was not their primary request.  One person, who is in her 60's, even said this:
  • "What a fascinating approach to find out what makes me tick.  I am totally honestly impressed! I have been employed since the age of 13 and can remember being asked directly such questions only once before; it was during a job interview rather then after being hired."
Since these interviews were conducted, with support of leadership, some small yet meaningful adjustments have been made allowing each team member to get more of what they want, and less of what they don't.

As a result, today the team I sense is much stronger, happier, and working better together.  In addition, I am personally more at peace knowing we have a solid team in place.  Of course, I continue to check in with each of them to see how they are doing for I see my role as to help them succeed and provide them resources they need so they can do what they do best.

If you're faced with good people leaving, I encourage you to give this approach and these types of questions a try, and then share with us what you learn. I believe you'll be glad and will be better off for having done so.

All the best to you.

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