It’s old hat in business that securing the best talent and keeping them corralled inside your company’s walls is the best way to make sure everyone’s happy and productive.
This approach, to put it bluntly, is totally backward.
You Can’t Make Anyone Do Anything
It’s a nice thought to see people as empathetic and compassionate. But the reality is that each person is the protagonist of his or her own story, which just so happens to be the only story that matters. What’s in it for me (WIIFM)? they ask.
Couple this with another disquieting fact: No longer are college graduates entering their career of choice planning to spend a lifetime at a large corporation. They bounce around. They dabble.
A study reported in The Wall Street Journal, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Charles Pierret, shows that beginning in 1979, members of the study “have held 10.8 jobs, on average between ages 18 and 42.”
The problem is, too few employers have the necessary foresight to know what their employees’ plans are. They are the stars of their own shows, after all. So where their interests go, they go.
Thinking you can keep them forever is delusional. Trying to keep them to stay when they don’t want to is manipulative.
The best any leader can do is face a simple choice head-on: Do you constantly want to check over your shoulder to make sure your team is behind you? Or do you want to engage them, and push them forward in plain sight?
Facilitate Your Employees’ Dreams…No Matter What They Are
Get rid of the idea that your job is to tame employees so they cooperate. Instead, see your role as a facilitator. Enable your staff to reach their potential, whether that’s with your company or not.
An amazing thing will happen. Not only will they stay; they’ll work even harder. They’ll see your compassion for them, and they’ll equate helping you with helping themselves.
Your employees will tap into their passions because they see you taking a genuine interest in them. They’re still the stars of their own show. Only now their boss is in the audience.
Stop Talking About What You Want
The on-ramp to this kind of relationship isn’t steep or short. Begin each relationship with new employees (and current ones, as well) by asking them about their professional goals.
How can I help you achieve your goals? you ask, even if you know you’re only a stepping-stone.
But most importantly, you’ve got to mean it. Sincerity is obvious, and a lack there of doubly so. Get them onboard by feeling wanted and appreciated, and the work they produce – even if it’s temporary – will help you build the business you’ve always dreamed of.