The Challenge?
A quote from the CIPD's report 'Impact of People Management Practices on Business Performance' neatly summarises the challenge for the Board:

'If managers wish to influence the performance of their companies the most important area they should emphasise is the management of people. This is ironic, given that our research demonstrates that emphasis on human resource management is one of the most neglected areas of managerial practice.'

As American management guru, Stephen Covey, comments: 'management is about doing things right but leadership is about doing the right things'; whilst in his 'Seven habits for highly effective people' he suggests that:

'Management without leadership is like arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.'

Practical Means of Retaining People
If there is inspiring leadership once a team has been created its members are more likely to stay together since most people wish to be associated with success, and may well regard the operation of an effective team as success in its own right. In turn this can help retain key personnel.

  • Maintain the high profile and reputation of the employer - creating a situation where the employee is proud to be associated with the employer.

  • Maintain a package for employees which is at least as good and possibly better than the average in the area/industry. It should make far more sense to invest the expenditure on replacing leavers by ensuring existing personnel are well-rewarded and content. Knowledge of their state of mind can only be gained by true COMMUNICATION and mutual respect.

  • Adopt all the principles of leadership (see above) and make sure employees are empowered as valued team members and their views and suggestions are listened to.

  • Ensure there is a structured training plan which caters for employees aspirations and business demands, and can reward those with required skills. Some people welcome having their skills and capabilities stretched.

  • Allow flexibility - those companies who respect their employees private lives and pressures are more likely to retain them so others may not, and research indicates that over 70% of those asked place flexibility of hours as one of their highest requirements.

  • recognise and reward special effort and performance.

    The management and motivation of staff is a continuing responsibility. Whilst setting up the principles and practice that will motivate employees is essential, so too is a commitment to continuing this approach which can be a harder task than actually starting. Most of us are attracted to 'something new' so developing a new outlook should have something going for it. When things are up and running, leaders may need to work hard to stimulate and retain attention and commitment.

    1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Unfortunately we often confuse information with communication. Information consists of giving people facts and data which they may or may not understand - it is essentially a sole directional process, does not require input from the target and does not generate any communicative process. Only if we encourage and generate feedback will we start a two-way process which, when both parties understand the viewpoint of the other, will become communication. True communication helps unleash employees' thoughts which may in turn provide a guide to managing them.

    2. Prohibit demotivational forces such as unfairness, discrimination, harassment, favouritism, verbal and physical violence, bullying and perceptions of worthlessness, etc. Ensure fairness at all times.

    3. Delegate. Push responsibility down as far as possible. This will leave time for managers to concentrate on managing and leading their employees (which should always be their first priority) as well as making the delegatee's job more rewarding. In delegating authority everyone must be told so they are prepared to support decisions made by the delegatee.

    4. Empower and enrich the jobs of team members. To a certain extent this will result from delegation since the effect of pushing responsibility down the line of command should be to widen subordinates responsibilities. Whilst some may not welcome this, most do and respond accordingly.

    5. Creation of teams. Encouraging employees themselves to work in teams harnesses the pressure of the team members to make their team successful. This should improve output, communication and productivity. The phrase 'Together Everyone Achieves More' is a useful mnemonic to help put the concept across and to ensure it is memorised.

    As five times gold medal winner Sir Stephen Redgrave and his rowing partner Matthew Pinsent state:

    'For any team to reach its true potential it needs all of its individuals to communicate clearly and work together. It means understanding each other's talents and then using them to the full, and it means knowing when to bolster each other's performance to become closer, stronger and more flexible. What started as a group of individuals ends with relationships permanently strengthened by the experience.'

    6. Task swapping. If there are a number of relatively straightforward, even boring jobs, training personnel so that they can periodically have a change round provides a variety of work and encourages a different approach to it. In this way, new relationships as well as new approaches may result. Indeed, it may be that someone new performing a task may see a way in which it could be improved.

    7. Discussions. Team briefing, QUALITY CIRCLES, workplace forums, improvement groups, suggestion schemes, etc. can all play a part in encouraging thought about the jobs and the way they are performed, and in welding a team together. The title given may be merely a peg but the important factor is that those involved have an opportunity to discuss matters of common interest and to work together as a team.

    8. Praise. In the UK we tend to criticise too often and praise too little. Yet praise is incredibly cost-effective and very motivational. Most people want recognition - even criticism may be preferable to being ignored. Few employees may have heard the phrase 'Praise me, scold me - just never ignore me', but many instinctively subscribe to the content.

    9. Incentives. Recognition can not only reward the good idea but also encourage employees to think about what they are doing. Human nature is strange - sometimes a financially 'worthless' award (e.g. a shield) can have more perceived 'value' than the star prize of, for example, a weekend in Paris. Peer recognition can be a valuable asset to the would-be motivator.

    10. Extend employee ownership, particularly in companies controlled by shares. This movement has been around for many years with tax incentives encouraging the spread of the process. Even the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown stated in 1999 that he wanted to encourage such ownership: 'Share ownership offers employees a real stake in their company. I want targeted reform, to reward long-term commitment by employees. I want to encourage the new enterprise culture of teamwork in which everyone contributes and everyone benefits from success.'

    Research in 2001 for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development by Professor Freeman (Harvard and London School of Economics), found that the increase in productivity from implementing an approved profit-sharing scheme was 17%, whilst introducing a share option plan raised it by 12%.

    11. Training. Being prepared to invest in employees by means of funding (or even part-funding) training for the mutual benefit of employee and employer may be a valued way of demonstrating commitment. Research indicates that in many, particularly fast-moving, industries good calibre people tend to be attracted to employers who will provide career training thus, enabling them to develop their talents.

    12. Flexibility. FLEXIBLE working and a preparedness to assist employees (particularly - but perhaps not exclusively in the future - related to those entitled under the 'family friendly' legislation), should help create an ambience of a 'give and take' partnership between employer and employed. Obviously, it is necessary to check that any such flexibility is not abused. Indicating these benefits will only exist providing they are not abused should enlist peer pressure to avoid abuse.


    1. hadeyf // September 27, 2008 at 8:28 PM  

      great info helping me build up my career. Now i try to concentrate in finance management (