BY ELLE KAPLAN, CEO, LEXION CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
To have exceptional success in business, you need to have exceptional employees. However, hiring them is only half the battle.
Unfortunately, it’s easy for A-players to find another opportunity, and they’ll be the most motivated to find the best job possible. It’s no wonder that more than one in five employees were searching for greener pastures in 2017.
The good news? Most of the slip-ups made by bosses that motivate rock stars to leave are completely avoidable.
End these common mistakes if you want your top talent to stick around (or start looking for another job if you’re on the receiving end).
1. They overwork the best ones.
“We treat our people like royalty,” said Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay. “If you honor and serve the people who work for you, they will honor and serve you.”
If you have good people, do not burn them out. As tempting as it might be, you need to avoid overutilizing your top performers. It is not fair that because a person is twice as good that they work twice as much (and often for the same pay).
They will notice, and they will feel undervalued, mistreated, and as if they were being punished for performing. Not to mention, the quality of their work is likely to plummet as well — a Stanford study shows that once a workweek exceeds 50 hours, your productivity per hour decreases drastically.
2. They don’t respect time out of the office.
Managing the balance between family life and work is a battle that, unfortunately, a lot of us are losing these days. In fact, having a healthy work-life balance is so important to people that 14 percent of employees said that this issue is a deal breaker, according to a survey by BambooHR.
The truth of the matter is, we shouldn’t have to choose, and we definitely shouldn’t be making our teams choose. When employees feel satisfied with their life outside of work, they are much more likely to perform at a higher level when they are actually at work.
3. They micromanage.
Take it from actress and producer Tina Fey, who wrote in her memoir, Bossypants, “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”
If you’re constantly trying to control every inch, you’ll detract from the work quality of everything, while quickly dissolving trust in your team.
On the other hand, if you start working on building trust from day one, you’ll be able to let your team make their own decisions and bring new ideas to the table. Employees who feel empowered to accomplish tasks on their own will be more motivated to take ownership and stick around.
4. They don’t instill purpose.
“Good leaders organize and align people around what the team needs to do,” said Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin. “Great leaders motivate and inspire people with why they’re doing it … and that’s the key to achieving something truly transformational.”
Research has shown that there is a consistent relationship between a company’s profitability, productivity, and how strongly an employee believes in the company’s mission and purpose.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to be saving lives to instill purpose — you just have to give a bigger picture of what employees are working toward. People really just want to know that their work has a point and to feel that like they’re playing a critical part.
5. They don’t provide opportunities for growth.
A study in Harvard Business Review looked at why top performers are job hunting, and they found that a lack of development opportunity is often the fuel that leads to early exits.
If you want to avoid an exodus, show your team that you are there to provide them with development opportunities and that you are willing to invest in their growth. Providing the opportunity to learn and advance can go a long way toward long-term motivation.
6. They participate in gossip.
It might make work more exciting or feel cathartic to vent about others at work, but bosses who feed into office gossip and play favorites create a hostile environment and end up focusing on all the wrong things.
HR expert Suzanne Lucas says, “The reality is you need to be in a position to not only hire, but also fire, discipline, promote, mentor, and pass people over for promotion. When you get caught up in the drama and concerned about the little things, you lose perspective on the things that matter, like the business.” As tempting as it might be to turn the office into a soap opera, above all, remain impartial.
7. They don’t let you pursue your passions.
Employees want to uncover their unique talents, not get stuck in a career pigeonhole. That’s why at LexION Capital, it’s not uncommon to see an admin writing blogs or the finance team working on a marketing project. That’s because I want their unique skills to flourish.
You should also encourage your team to spread their wings, especially with your exceptional employees. The results will amaze you.
8. They don’t have empathy.
“As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody,” said Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo. “However, I am very caring, because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future.”
Employees are human beings, and it’s easy for some bosses to forget that. While you do need to put your foot down sometimes (and you don’t have to be friends with every employee), using emotional intelligence is just as critical. Even top performers will have bad days, so you should always make an effort to be compassionate and caring.
Do you have any other bad leadership habits to avoid?
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