Higher Pay Is Not Always the Answer

My previous two columns have focused on how good employees are being poached away from their current employer followed by the why, how and where to find great contributors to succeed those that have departed.

This column addresses how to mitigate the fact that you have good employees on the payroll that you wish to retain, but you can’t compete against companies offering a larger compensation package. It’s acceptable to admit you simply cannot afford to increase payroll.

Studies have suggested that while pay is important, personal and professional growth opportunities rate higher when employees are asked where job satisfaction comes from.

Are you offering your employees the opportunity to learn, grow, contribute and be part of an organization that is moving forward?

I think every employer wants their employees to do more, to be more efficient and effective. Sadly, I have known some owners who only pay this idea lip service when it comes to providing either the opportunity or the tools.

Many employees today are not only disengaged they have become discouraged. These employees feel they are not heard; they make suggestions and the ideas are dismissed; or the owner is so dominating the employee feels frightened to even make a suggestion.

Often, there is a lack of opportunity for growth and a lack of communication from leadership about the future of the company.

Employees, like everyone else on the planet, listen to radio station WII-FM, which is “what’s in it for me?”
Each person has their own channel on WII-FM, similar to what Pandora.com allows.

I’ll once again counsel owners to be careful what you wish for when it comes to asking for people to step up, do the work and then not have you follow through on the recommendations offered.

There is no quicker way to cause an employee to become totally disengaged and walk out the door to work somewhere else than disrespecting the effort and work they have done at your request.

The saying that people may not always remember what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel, is a maxim everyone who manages people should not ever forget.

The growth recipe is fairly straightforward. It starts by allowing individuals to have new experiences in all areas of the company.

The more people know about other departments, and the people in them, the stronger the teamwork will be. Silos will be knocked down, communication will improve, and appreciation for the various processes in each department will make for a better informed and empathetic team.

Second, find out what motivates people. This is simply a conversation between leaders and followers. Taking the time to listen to someone else’s channel on WWI-FM will give great understanding of what that person wants, needs and desires. Knowing this can be a great tool in motivating an employee.

Third, build teams at lower levels. At work, there is usually a management team, and different departments. Lacking any formal management structure, cliques form and people gravitate towards PLU (people like us).

Imagine a team of supervisors from all departments that meet to discuss common issues and projects, working together to address opportunities and obstacles. This helps to build a succession plan and strengthens management.

Fourth and last, make sure that everyone in your company has regular and honest performance evaluations. People always want to know how they are doing but managers sometimes fail to provide ongoing, candid observations to employees, preferring to save it up for the annual review. Unfortunately, annual reviews are often postponed and then forgotten.

A raise? Not at this time. But opportunities to learn and grow? Always.