Retention Management

Retention management is a responsibility that is pushed from HR to managers to executives and back again. As the ones closest to the action, supervisors can have a positive impact on employee turnover if they take the right steps.

“People leave managers, not companies.”
Marcus Buckingham in First, Break All the Rules

Whatever your turnover rate is, it could always be better. Especially when the estimated cost of turnover is 30-50% of the position\’s salary, and that can jump to 400% for highly specialized or senior level positions! There are many ways that you as a manager can influence this statistic. Don\’t believe me? Here are 11 ways to improve your retention rate.

  1. Feedback-providing regular, honest assessments of someone\’s work lets them know you care
  2. Regular meetings-take the time to be transparent about what you know
  3. Explanations of work-remind people of the end purpose/goal for the work they are performing
  4. Goals for the future-help your team members develop positive, challenging goals
  5. Work/life balance-when work and life come into conflict, don\’t make them choose between work performance and family
  6. Professional development-give opportunities to learn and grow; people appreciate the managers who challenge them to be better
  7. Ask for (and seriously consider) input/opinions-when they know you are honestly asking for input, they\’ll be honest with you
  8. Focus on strengths-give tasks based on strengths when possible; it gives people something to look forward to and ensures the work is being done well
  9. Serve them-servant leadership beats fear-based leadership every single time; if you\’d rather be feared than respected, it\’s time to hang up your manager hat
  10. Clear expectations-if you want something from them, make it obvious; hinting and beating around the bush just frustrates everyone involved
  11. Internal equity-treat your high workers well and challenge your low performers to get better; treating both parties the same is a recipe for disaster

If I had to boil that down to two short and sweet actions, it would be walk and talk. Get out of your office/cube and go see your people. Take opportunities to not only talk with them about what you know, but to ask them for feedback on your performance.

One question I often receive is “but what about my low performers, isn\’t that good turnover?” If we\’ve taken the time to put an employee through the disciplinary process and they still aren\’t turning around, then yes, there are sometimes no other options. But that is to be exercised only after you\’ve attempted activities like those listed above. It\’s a last resort, not a quick fix to a performance problem.

While we have a well-established process for performance appraisals, that annual/semi-annual conversation should be a restatement of the facts you both already know and understand. Neither party should be surprised during review time, so make sure you are regularly building in opportunities to provide two-way feedback. Your people will appreciate you for it!

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  • 12 thoughts on “Retention Management-11 Ways Managers Can Influence Turnover

    1. I would like to mention that the first step in turnover prevention is correct hiring. I have seen examples of how glorifying what the job entails or the positions value to the organisation generates turnover. Hiring the best for the position rather than the best in the business will probably be more valuable for you, unless you are one of the lucky few working for an employer capable of handling those who can be labelled ‘best’.

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