Summary: Employees leave their jobs for many reasons, but one of the most common reasons cited is leaving due to their boss. Strong relationships with your reports will go a long way when it comes to employee retention, and communication is the foundation of making these connections. In this blog, we outline 5 communication skills that every leader must continue working on to improve retention and keep their employees happier.
The Great Resignation is upon us, but employee retention has never been simple. Believe it or not, people change jobs an average of 12 times during their lifetime. While the pandemic seems to have created a hunger for personal change, including changing jobs, the reasons behind leaving positions haven’t changed much – what we’re seeing is an increase in motivation.
People who leave their job are often looking for better pay, a more flexible schedule, or additional growth opportunity – but many people are leaving because of their bosses. A poor relationship with their manager can drive an otherwise happy employee into the job market.
The foundations of a good relationship are built on communication. So as a leader, how do you make sure you’re making the right connections with your employees? There is no easy answer here, but a dedication to building your skill set as a communicator is a great place to start.
Here’s what you always need to be working on.
Most of us are ready to draw conclusions or chime in once we’ve got the gist of what someone is saying. However, taking the time to really listen is a fundamental part of communication – and is the key to understanding your people and keeping them engaged.
Make sure you aren’t distracted by your phone or laptop while someone else is speaking. Let them know you’re paying attention by asking relevant questions or paraphrasing.
When you’re busy, it’s easy to be distracted because there are so many things that demand your attention. It may take some deliberate practice to put those things to the side and attend fully to the conversation at hand.
This practice is worth it. There is so much you can learn from your conversations when you’re listening. In this conversation, they may talk about some challenges they face that you could help eliminate with a more streamlined system. Or they may be subtly letting you know that a more flexible work schedule would keep them happily employed with you.
A little listening can go a long way toward making your employees feel respected and supported. If you haven’t been a good listener in the past, it’s never too late to begin honing your skills.
Get to the Point
Be mindful of everyone’s time. Before setting a meeting, take a moment and ask yourself why you’re setting the meeting. Are you sharing something sensitive? Are you looking for feedback or collaboration? If it’s mainly a meeting to share information, an email may do the trick and save everyone some time. Having discipline around what warrants a meeting will make the meetings that you do call more meaningful.
Your employees will be more attentive to you if most of what you’re speaking is relevant and concise. Preparation will allow you to keep meetings on track and productive and you’ll even likely be able to shorten meeting times.
If you want your staff to remain engaged, it’s important to be short and to the point.
One of the most important leadership skills in today’s world is sharing your goals with your employees. Most people want to do well at work but being unsure of what’s considered excellent job performance is stressful.
Employees with clear goals know exactly what they need to do to excel. They will also know what they need to do to earn a raise or put themselves in a position for a promotion.
Goals need to be specific and attainable, leaving your employees with no doubt as to whether they’re achieving them. Encouraging someone to make five sales a week is more concrete than “improve your sales.”
Being specific is crucial for healthy relationships and making sure there aren’t miscommunications. If you haven’t clearly communicated your expectations, people will start filling in the blanks themselves and there’s no guarantee they’ll get it right.
Share Your Vision
There’s a reason why you started your own company or became a manager. Communicating your vision clearly helps create excitement, buy-in, and a unified understanding of what success looks like for your team and business. It also provides direction for their work and decisions.
Your vision likely already connects with values your employees already hold dear – after all they decided to work for you. They may value the environment, patient health outcomes, a strong economy, or safe working conditions – things that your company may be aligned with. Let them know how your company connects with these overarching themes and how their work makes a difference.
Don’t Forget About the Personal Goals of Others
Your staff is full of individuals from different personal situations. Individual conversations will help you get a read on what motivates the members of your staff. You can then tailor their professional goals to help them become more meaningful.
For example, you may want to offer a remote or hybrid option to your staff. If you have parents, people with long commutes, or people with chronic health issues on your team, this could be what keeps them happy and loyal. Having this flexibility shows that you want to accommodate their needs.
Or, for teams who are financially motivated, you may want to begin using your budget to offer bigger bonuses to those who make more sales. It will really improve your bottom line and keep your staff happy and committed.
While your entire staff may not be on the exact same page in terms of motivation, taking the time to get to know the individuals on your team should make it clear what will work best for the group. Be curious, ask questions, and listen to what people are saying and what they are asking for.
Practice makes progress
The best leaders never stop improving their communication skills. Communication is key to healthy relationships, and these relationships are what build healthy teams and organizations.
Communication isn’t a skill we can just master and move on from. It’s a daily commitment to learning and improving. Practice won’t make you perfect, but it will make progress.
Don’t stop becoming a great leader now. For more information on improving your team leadership, take a course today.