Managers, take a quiz to check relationship with employees

"Give me some creative ideas to recruit new employees," a client asked recently. Although his company was growing, it was also springing leaks. He was eager to increase the number of employees coming in the front door, but he was ignoring the problems causing an exodus of experienced employees out the back door. His managers needed as much work as his recruiting process.

Employers everywhere are howling about the tight labor market. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet. With the labor pool shrinking, new bodies just won’t be there. Which brings me to one of the most important retention tools businesses have right under their noses: the quality of their leaders.

When companies conduct exit interviews they often hear benign reasons for leaving, such as "seeking a better opportunity," or "more money." Yet, when we do exit interviews as an outside firm, or a former employee tells us "off the record" why they left, the reasons are often different. Frequently, their exit is directly tied to their manager. For instance, the manager hoarded work and didn’t give the employee a chance to grow, or the manager found fault with everything the employee did.

Every employee is connected to their organization through an umbilical cord attached to their manager. Whether their connection to the company is healthy or weak depends, to a large degree, upon what flows back and forth between them.

I recently came across this statement in The Business Week Frontier Magazine, October 11, 1999, "The decision to stay is more often based on how much recognition and respect the boss gives to a prized staffer, than on how much the co-pay is on the dental plan. Pay more attention to your management style, and everyone will benefit." Bingo.

Here is a quiz that will test the health of your relationship with your employees. I plan to give this to my co-workers and ask for their input. How about you?

Rating scale:

4 = I do this often.
3 = Sometimes I do this, but not consistently.
2 = I do this only occasionally.
1 = I don’t do this at all.

____ I take time, up-front, to describe projects and tasks, and set parameters with employees, so they know what is expected and why.
____ I give my employees positive reinforcement and praise.
____ My employees receive clear, honest feedback and coaching.
____ Once my employees know the desired results, I get out of their way and let them have freedom to do their jobs.
____ I give my employees "face time", both one-on-one and in team meetings.
____ If one of my employees gets off track or makes a mistake, I use it as a teaching opportunity.
____ I share information freely with my staff and encourage open dialogue and participation.
____ I don’t blame, use guilt, threats or other demeaning tactics.
____ I don’t hide behind bureaucracy, or policies. I try to get things done quickly and effectively.
____ I don’t make decisions that impact my team without including them in the process.
____ I spend more time with the good performers than the poor ones.
____ I address poor performance and make sure that the individual has a clear plan for improvement.
____ I don’t overload good performers to the point of burnout.
____ I take time to find out every employee’s career and job goals and encourage them to work on tasks and projects that will stretch them toward those goals.
____ I try new ideas—whether they are mine or from someone else.
____ I reward healthy risk-taking and I’m careful not to punish good effort.
____ I seek input from my employees on ways I can improve as a leader.
____ I enjoy giving my employees visibility and sharing credit with them.
____ I spend more time working with people, than working on paperwork.
____ I treat all my employees with respect and dignity.
____ I encourage a fun sense of community in my work unit.

If you ask for input from your staff, you will have some valuable information to work with, and you’ll be on the road to becoming a better leader just by asking. But the real power is in your action plan for improvement.

Here are some ideas on what to do with your scores:

Congratulations on your 4’s! Zero in on your 2’s and 3’s and pick out one that will make the most difference to your employees. If you have some 1’s, do some soul searching. Pick one that needs to be improved immediately. Write down an action plan and put it where you’ll see it every day for a month (a post it note in your calendar or in your computer). If you don’t know where to start, ask your employees, they’ll tell you. It might be the best career development advice you’ve ever heard. If you don’t ask, they could "talk" with their feet…right out the back door.

Gallup polls did a survey that showed that 75% of employees who quit their jobs, quit their manager, not the company.  Can you afford to lose talented employees?  

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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