Every institution grows and survives based on the talent available with them. The growth of a company is directly proportional with the talent available with them. The way technology is evolving there are two prominent trends that are emerging – faster penetration of the Internet and change in the ways of engagement and socialising. Both these trends have escalated the speed of information flow making people more knowledgeable and exposed to opportunities at a global level. This has resulted in faster job rotation and shorter stay with each company making it the biggest challenge for the organisation to retain talent and make profit from the people during its stay with the organisation.
Retention and Beyond – Systems and Processes
This issue needs to be addressed beyond talent retention. Companies need to develop systems and processes which can reduce dependency on people. Many companies have shifted from excel to proper CRM/ERP and Business Intelligence modules which helps in knowledge management for the best benefit of the organisation. This also helps in evaluating performance management in a much shorter duration so that a quick call related to training non-performers can be taken depending on whether the main cause of non-performance is lack of ability or lack of willingness. This helps in diverting investment towards performers and rewarding them with better remuneration/incentives rather than spending money on non-performing assets for long periods.
Growth – the ultimate solution
The ultimate solution to the retention challenge is growth. We get a kick out of sustainable and continuous success. All problems, challenges, frustration, work-life balance stories get evened out when you grow in terms of remuneration as well as scale and size of responsibility and achievement. Management must ensure strategic decisions to make the most out of the talent available and choice of business areas to generate maximum revenue and share optimal responsibility for maximum achievable output. Many companies see loss of talent, especially at the top level in large organisations, due to lack of new business or products which not only results in monotony but also reduces the profit margins due to increasing costs finally putting breaks on the salary growth leading to trigger for change. If you cannot grow, no retention will ever work so channelise all your energy in growth strategies rather than spending time on retention strategies.
Retention solution to growth driven attrition
By and large people change jobs for three reasons – growth, fear or personal reasons. If a person is looking for a new job for more monetary and/or functional growth then that can be managed by proactively planning for growth and making growth strategies as your core focus area on a day-to-day basis. Inculcate the sense of urgency for growth. There are a lot of opportunities in an organisation, especially where there are pain areas or problems. Look out for these and take on responsibilities to grow faster as an individual. As a company, discuss these opportunities with the team to give them of ways for faster growth possibilities in a new area or product.
Retention solution to fear-driven attrition
Many employees change jobs due to fear of loosing jobs in light of some unauthentic information or corporate gossip. As a leader make sure that you are in touch with the last person in your company and keep your two-way direct communication channels open to avoid any confusion within the team related to management or company. Make sure you adopt participative approach where people at different levels are involved in critical decision-making to build ownership skills, which are rare. Identify people with entrepreneurial mindsets and give them higher responsibilities and authorities in the company to prove their capacities in true sense of entrepreneurship.
Convert problems into opportunities
Attrition due to personal problems which cannot be avoided like relocation place has to be seen with empathy and as an opportunity for expansion by the organisation at a new location and try to work out a new possibility with people who have displayed their level of loyalty and commitment. We have started our new branches at several locations when our best teammates had to relocate due to non-avoidable circumstances. Now they have grown enough and these regions are large enough to take care of personal problems without relocation. If people have grown faster during initial years then the rest of the family members accommodate around them. Don’t wait for people to become old to give responsibilities. Even a 25 year old can successfully manage large business once determined and committed so be fearless when you bet on a young team to enhance their stability. Never loose best talent, go out of the way to work on stability and happily loose non-performers to save performers.
Top Management retention
Solutions to attrition vary from level to level. For top management retention, the style and type of management matters. Select best people and give them more than 100 per cent freedom to run the business. Micromanagement sometimes looses best talent. Freedom also ensures that true characters of a person emerge fast, be it good or bad, else they remain hidden and damage the system in the long run even if retention may be taken care of. Change your structure in such a way that people who are committed and loyal get ownership in a true sense. This applies only when you know the persons really well for which a lot of time needs to be invested with your top team in knowing them more as human beings rather than professionals. Understand their personal needs and extend your support genuinely beyond business without any expectation of returns. It’s always best to be friends with people who you are working with rather than finding friends in people who may not even know what you do or don’t trust your vision.
Strengthening the bottom of the pyramid
For retention at mid- and base-level where real talent lies and where real business happens, sometimes reach of leadership is difficult. This can be substituted by creating tools of better engagement. Training the trainer events also help. Use digital communication to communicate your organisational plans at large levels and growth possibilities for all, keeping people informed. Communicate most when you are undergoing any change explaining the logic of change.
Growth, enhanced communication and use of technology to develop systems and processes will improve retention and reduce the effect of attrition.
The author is Managing Director, UniversalHunt