All your good employees are flight risks because other companies want them, too. Even low performers get job offers, because they interview way better than they work. In fact, that may be why you hired them in the first place!
Job changes are stressful, but when people lose hope they update their resume and “hope” to find something better.
Hope is the glue that keeps good people engaged. But hope doesn't come easy. Hope is a psychological construct. It’s not the simple promise of a promotion or a pay increase.
Yes, people need something to hope for, and without some meaningful goal or direction, there's nothing worth hoping for! But then people have to have a realistic plan, and the more pathways they can see to achieving their goals, the better. And people need a sense of agency. They need to feel in control and able to overcome obstacles.
Without a goal, plan, and a sense of agency, there is no hope!
So keep this in mind when you're thinking about your key people, and when you're in your one-on-one's, this is where you want to focus.
Keep their goals front and center, and give equal attention to their “performance”, “professional”, and “personal goals”.
Then collaborate with them on their plans. Be as flexible as possible, and give them the leeway they need. Coach them around the roadblocks and offer encouragement and positive reinforcement.
One-on-one's are a good time to reflect on progress, which can build confidence and it's a good time to remind people of their strengths.
Five minutes of prep work before your one-on-ones will pay huge dividends, especially with your flight risks. It's easy to come into these sessions running hot. You're racing from meeting to meeting, and prep time is hard to come by. I get it. But make the time!
When people are uncertain about their goals, plans, and abilities, they’re going to sense danger, and they're going to lose hope. And other companies are selling them hopeful thoughts.
Think about the people you're interviewing right now. You're selling them “hope”. You’re explaining how their strengths can be applied in your world to achieve “their goals”. You're recruiting them by selling “hope”.
You need to make that same approach a routine part of your discussions with every valuable employee, but you can’t be disingenuous. People don’t quit companies; they quit on bosses!
People want a boss to be trustworthy, empathetic and consistent, and if they question any of those virtues in you - they’re going to lose hope.
You can’t always give the promotion or pay increase that people want, and in the short term their goal may seem unachievable. Their plans may seem unrealistic, and they may lose a sense of agency. I get it!
You’re asking people to take a risk, and to put their faith in you. And the only way they’re going to do that is if they trust you, think you care about them, and view you as being consistent.
Changing jobs is risky, too! They have to put their trust in someone else. They know you, so you have an advantage! And if your relationship is built on trust, empathy and consistency, you’ve got a “big advantage”!