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Beware Donald Trump: Employees don’t leave jobs, they leave bad managers

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It’s a new era where you can no longer take anything for granted, ‘marmite – love them, or loathe them’ candidates are winning US Presidential elections, Brexit did happen and the moon has come in for a closer inspection to see just what is happening on planet earth; it’s no wonder that employees too are deciding to jump ship after only ninety days in a job but are they leaving the job or are they ditching you?

It takes a great deal of time, effort and resources to hire new candidates. Whole departments are dedicated to it. Not only does it cost, in terms of personnel overhead but it also takes a great deal of money in advertising and time taken away from other tasks. Getting it wrong can be catastrophic.

It seems absurd given all this that organisations are haemorrhaging staff as the ink settles on the contract. Afterall ninety days, which is the traditional ‘itch’ time for new employees, is only just about long enough to get someone on the payroll and include them in the tea round. Of course people decide to leave organisations for all sorts of good reasons – family commitments, wanting to gain further qualifications, change career or start-up their own venture. It is not a crime to do so and you’re more likely as an employer to pat them on the back, wish them well and open a bottle of bubbly to give them a send-off, than start hurling around accusations that they have been disloyal or thrown in the towel too early. But how can you make sure you pick the candidate that is likely to stick around long enough to make the time and investment in their induction worthwhile? And importantly how do you make sure you are not being left because you are a bad manager?

Here are some ‘be’ tips on how to keep your new starters loving and not loathing their new job:

  1. Be a likeable not a loathsome manager: a ‘bad’ manager is uncommunicative at their core, unpleasant to be around and fails to create a positive place to work. We’ve all been there and experienced the wrong end of a ‘bad manager’s’ stick. It’s worse than ugly. The sadness is that some managers don’t even realise they are doing it; if you are the kind of manager who is partial to a little quip then make sure it is in good taste. I was in a garage the other day when the manager came out and in front of the whole collection of waiting customers turned to the receptionist and said: “I do hope she is being suitably rude and unhelpful,” He thought he was being hilarious she couldn’t have sunk any further into her polo neck as her cheeks turned increasingly crimson.
  2. Be realistic: agree some quantifiable objectives from day one. No-one likes to be left like a rabbit in the headlights. Sit down with your new starter and prioritise setting their objectives – get sign-off from the new employee and use a SMART framework to ensure goals are specific. Offer a benchmark, KPI to measure success against each one and offer an open dialogue – continuously assess if the objectives are realistic. You don’t want your new starter to leave because they feel they aren’t upto the job when in essence you have set the bar too high. Stress is not an attractive look.
  3. Be flexible: remote workers are 50% less likely to quit. Life is complicated, offer a way to help your new employee keep all the balls in the air. If part of their job can be conducted remotely or from home, then offer them the flexibility to do so. They will thank you for it and in return are more likely to stick with you then go elsewhere. Don’t be tempted into creating a culture of presenteeism for appearances sake.
  4. Be honest: there is no good pretending the company has all the answers and is the perfect employer if it isn’t. Painting a false picture to get the employee to sign up is destined to failure. Trust is not just the stuff of marriages but also the bedrock of the employee, employer relationship. Be honest about what your organisation stands for, what it is working on and the threats to it. The new candidate needs to know what they are getting into. If it’s not for them don’t be tempted to persuade them otherwise.
  5. Be pro-active: demonstrate an interest from the start in building relationships. Organise a social meet and greet on neutral territory, consider doing this before day one even begins. Being included is valued. I recently saw a post on LinkedIn where a new starter was sent a bunch of flowers before her first day. She was obviously thrilled and posted a picture on the networking site. Starting off on the right foot really does pay dividends.
  6. Be future-orientated: create a road-map to show a new starter the path ahead. Most employees are interested in where they’ll be one, two, three years from now. Show them where they might fit into the organisation within those timeframes. If training is available to get them there then discuss those opportunities with them but make sure you pay more than lip-service to their aspirations. Romanticising about future steps will start to sour if nothing is put into action.
  7. Be open: offer an open-door policy. It may sound twee but being able to demonstrate you are genuinely approachable as an employer will pay off. If you fail to build any rapport with your new starter you are unlikely to be able to spot the signs of unhappiness before it’s too late.

If you get to the point when you are conducting as many exit interviews as new starter inductions, then I’d say it is time to redress the balance. There are so many common pitfalls that can be easily corrected if you are ready to put your hands up as an employer and work towards improving your attitude to welcoming and connecting with new starters. Don’t be the manager in the garage that humiliates rather than ingratiates their employees.

By Annie Hayes, HR freelance writer and expert.

Global Lingo supports Human Resource departments during grievance and disciplinary meetings and business restructurings. Working with Financial Institutions, Intergovernmental organisations and global Companies we provide specialist Minute-Takers for on-site or remote attendance delivering a detailed and accurate account of confidential and sensitive meetings.

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