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Once you’ve recruited, hired, trained and developed high quality employees, how do you retain them?

How you run the business and the environment you create are the most powerful retention tools:

  1. Have mission and vision statements for your business. A mission statement as an answer to the question, “Why do we exist?” A vision statement is more directional, answering a question such as, “Where do we want to be?” These statements shouldn’t just be written and then filed away. They need to be visible to you and your team and form the basis for your daily actions.
  2. Trust is the foundation of your relationship with your team members. Always do what you say will do. Keep your promises to your team. Never speak about someone who isn’t present. Always do the right thing. Set an example.
  3. Always treat your team members with respect. Respect is a basic human need. Show your team that you care about their feelings.
  4. Be inclusive and build alignment:
    a. Awareness – communicate your vision and goals clearly
    b. Involvement – engage your team in creating the plan
    c. Alignment – everyone “rowing” in the same direction
    d. Acceleration – the team sets expectations higher
  5. Provide timely feedback. Catch people doing things right and make it a daily practice to acknowledge good work. If you need to provide correction, don’t put it off. Make sure to do it with respect and in private.
  6. Listen to your team. Be open to their input and show that you are considering their ideas. Make it safe for team members to come to you with problems and issues. Encourage them to come up with their own solutions.
  7. Set and beat stretch goals – stretch goals create excitement and change mindsets. Achieving goals builds confidence.
  8. Follow up and hold your people accountable – it sends the message that you care and you respect their word.
  9. Be intolerant of underperformers – Your team is watching. Tolerating underperformers tells them that you won’t hold them accountable and is unfair to the high performers.
  10. Act on important vs. urgent priorities – It’s easy to have your day consumed with urgent matters. Make sure to also include time for important items, such as setting goals, tracking performance, planning, action steps and accountability.

Long term succession planning is also a retention tool. Employees who are engaged in a long term Training Plan see a future for themselves and are more likely to stay with the company.

Goal Setting:

In addition to you setting annual goals for the business, it’s important for each employee to have personal goals. Each employee should be able to see how his/her personal goals are connected to the larger goals of the business.

Each employee’s goals should be SMART goals:

  • Specific – distinct without ambiguous language
  • Measurable – agree on an objective, quantifiable measure so that it’s clear if the goal is achieved or not.
  • Attainable – the goal should be a stretch, but something the employee can see achieving.
  • Relevant – the goal should be related to the employee’s position and the overall goals of the business.
  • Time Bound – there must be a date by when the goal will be achieved and a follow up mechanism.

Examples of goals that are not SMART:

  • Keep the warehouse clean
  • Provide excellent customer service
  • Get along well with other teammates

Examples of goals that are SMART:

  • Sweep the warehouse floor weekly
  • 99% order fulfillment
  • Listen attentively to other teammates without interrupting

It’s critical for you to follow up with employees on their goals. There should be agreed on follow up timing in place, whether it’s a weekly walkthrough of the warehouse or a monthly sales meeting. This sends the message that you will hold people accountable and also that you care about each employee.