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Retaining and Engaging Staff, Dean Carpenter

 Last issue I wrote about the importance of having a well-structured on-boarding program in your business. This issue I’m going to discuss some techniques your business can employ to achieve high levels of staff attachment, engagement and ultimately retention.

Critical Attachment Period

It is a little known fact to most employers that the first 120 days of employment are when an employee forms their attachment to the company and their manager. This period is when both the employer and the employee assess if the company is the right fit and if they have made the right decision. This period is vital in determining if the employee will remain with the company for the long haul and stay engaged - demonstrating focus, loyalty and hard work throughout their employment.

Engagement & Motivation

For high levels of ongoing engagement, it's important staff feel challenged and motivated in their workplace. Daniel Pink, in his book, Drive, lists three elements of the motivation formula:

  • Autonomy: Allowing the employee to complete their job without being micromanaged.
  • Mastery: Allowing the employee to master their skill set before increasing their responsibilities.
  • Purpose: Aligning their role and skillset with the goals of the company

In situations where people are paid fairly, this trio drives, engages, and stimulates us to do our best work.

Goal Setting

Many businesses do not effectively communicate their goals with their team, often leading to misdirection in the business and missing a key element of the motivation trifecta - ‘purpose’. Team members like being able to see how their decisions and actions affect the bigger picture of the company.

Once the business has decided upon its goals for the year, it’s important this is communicated with the entire company. Team leaders and managers should decide the best methods to achieve these goals, breaking them down into manageable chunks (e.g. quarterly goals) for the team and in turn helping each team member to understand the role that they will play in reaching these goals.

For each quarter, each team member should be working towards:

  • Key Deliverables: targets specifically related to their role and the bigger picture
  • Personal Development Goals; the individual’s growth and learning experience whilst trying to achieve the Key Deliverables, e.g. undertake a training course or gain exposure to another part of the business.

Ensuring these goals are met comes down to planning and management. Team members should regularly check-in with their manager for goal reviews. Holding regular meetings allows the manager to identify any problems and work with the team member to ensure they will be met by the end of the quarter.

Recognising an employee’s desire for personal development is vital in retaining staff. Next issue we will look at how businesses can tackle this challenge by providing opportunities for their people to learn and grow on an ongoing basis.

As you can see, while it is important to get the on-boarding process right, it’s also important that you continue to work on the engagement and motivation of your team to maximise your businesses potential.


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Dean Carpenter