Long tenure with your employer – What should be done to improve longevity?

 

I’ve changed jobs twice in the past. The first job I left was plainly for the greener pastures as I knew there were limited opportunities for growth in that job. I left the second job more on an idealist impulse than anything else. I was young and headstrong and had just come back to India from an assignment at Hong Kong amid 9/11 turbulence. My boss had just left the company and I was put under a new boss with whom I had only very limited interaction. He called me to his chamber a couple of days after I landed in India and told me that because of IT slowdown resulting from 9/11, the management was embarking on a new policy of “Just In Time” bench strength i.e. need based hiring and firing of employees. And I was required to pursue resignations from 12 people from my team in the next two days. The names had already been decided and the list was given to me, the names on the list were of the brightest guys in the team and I was bemused. Every attempt to get reason out of that approach resulted in an argument with my new boss. The team members whose resignations I had to take were the same guys who worked really hard for the last assignment. I was their PL and those were the guys who on my orders did lot of night outs to complete the assignment. I told my boss that I cannot do that and resigned. On hindsight I feel that perhaps if I would have been involved in the process from the beginning and would have been given more time I would have felt more comfortable to comply. But my boss could not sell out the new policy to me and was not willing to reason it out with me.

Later on while reading an interview with Aziz Premji in a magazine I came across a comment that

Immediate boss is the reason people stay and thrive in an organization. And he’s the reason why people leave.

I am in my seventh year in Organization and in retrospection I believe if you and your boss are mature enough then it is possible to iron out any differences and make things work again. As you grow older, you grow wiser too and you are better able to avoid acting on impulse.

But your immediate manager remains the foremost reason why people leave their jobs.

People leave managers not companies,” write the authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman.

Mostly manager drives people away?

HR experts say that of all the abuses, employees find humiliation the most intolerable. The first time, an employee may take it and not leave, but a thought has been planted. The second incident, that thought gets strengthened. The third time, he starts looking for another job.

When people cannot retort openly in anger, they do so by passive aggression.

– By digging their heels in and slowing down.

– By doing only what they are told to do and no more.

– By omitting to give the boss crucial information.

Most employees think in very plain terms “If your boss is a jerk, you basically want to get him into trouble. You pay him in the same currency as he pays you in.”

Different managers can stress out employees in different ways – by being too controlling, too suspicious, too pushy, too critical, but they forget that workers are not fixed assets they are free agents. When this goes on too long, an employee will quit – often over a trivial issue.

Can a breakdown in relationship with boss be controlled?

As soon as one becomes a manager, his key role is to manage people.  This is a skill that needs to be learned and continually developed… and if one is prepared to invest time and money into being an effective manager he will enjoy the benefits of his efforts.  Some managers are able to do it on their own, others need help and that is where company needs to pitch in and provide the required support.

Suggestions:

Following suggestions can be implemented

a) Organization can support by undertaking a management training course for its managers that teaches practical, easy-to-implement ideas to accelerate the leadership abilities and to help them become the best managers. A good manager needs to enquire of people how they really feel and work out a solution. Just because the employees haven’t told him about their concerns don’t mean that everything’s fine. He should not turn a blind eye.

b) A mentorship program for all employees can be initiated where each employee is under the mentorship of another senior manager not in his direct reporting line so that he can confide in him any issues with his immediate superiors.

Benefits:

If the employees are managed well then they would think twice before leaving the organization and if that person is someone who does a good job, not only will company be able to retain the person but would also save all that time and money it has invested in them.

The second most important reason why people tend to leave is their perception about Company’s direction.
When managers can’t provide a clear sense of company direction – or when they are not able to circulate information regarding the company’s policies, appraisal etc., it needs to be sorted out. A lack of information is never a good sign. Specific goals and expectations linked to a common, compelling vision provide a sense of contribution and focus. Commitment to the job is enhanced when a visible link exists between individual performance and organizational success. Show the connection.

All employees must have a sense of company’s direction. There should be proper dissemination of information at all levels in the company. To make this focus a part of company’s culture, it is very important that it is started at the entry level.

Suggestions:

Special emphasis needs to be given to the fresh recruits; this can be achieved in following ways

a) Organization needs better induction programs for fresh recruits emphasizing on company’s policies and priorities.

b) A separate boot camp of at least a couple of months could to be initiated in which the top managers take part actively and provide the company’s direction to the new recruits.

The laterals need to be made aware of the company’s priorities through separate internal HR programs. Also it needs to be ensured that they receive the time, tools, and training to accomplish their jobs. This can be achieved by following

a) More explicit displays of company’s mission and focus on quality at workplace. The mission statement can be part of the desktop login screen; it should be displayed on the building walls.

b) An investment in tools and training reinforces the idea in the employees that the company wants the business to succeed. The employees should be made to feel a sense of ownership about these tools. A worthwhile investment would be to provide all C banders with their own individual laptops to make them feel a sense of ownership of the tools and to instill a thought that company is willing to invest in them.

c) Every employee should be made to undergo some Technical or Managerial training program for a minimum of at least 15 days in a year.

Benefits:

Providing adequate time to accomplish the task sends the message that quality is important. The need to do more with less does not mean do everything with nothing. Frustration would develop if the barriers are consistently erected that make success on the job impossible. These positive steps would ensure that the work culture at Organization is free from the Smalltalk like

– My job is not interesting; I want a new challenge in a different job

– I want to work at something I like

– I would like to progress my career

– I would like to improve myself

– I feel I’m stuck in a rut

– I feel that I don’t fit into the company’s culture

The third important reason is that employees expect a level of camaraderie and if that threshold is not met they tend to leave the organization
An all important management dictum is that people aren’t normally loyal to companies. Most are loyal to people. When there is a lack of camaraderie in the job the employees feel lonely and it ultimately leads to negative attitude, lack of productivity and an increase in mistakes. Working with several people that don’t appreciate is very stressful. The employees my bear it for while but if this situation continues and no acceptable way has been taken to resolve it, employees might consider a change.

Suggestions:

The training programs can be conducted for employees and managers alike to help them develop their interpersonal skills. The managers need to be trained to ensure that there is no breakdown in relationship with underlings and that people have fun. Environments that promote laughter contribute to higher morale, improved productivity, and lowered on-the-job stress. The ability to be relaxed and enjoy oneself creates passion in the workplace that increases loyalty and creates a bond between team members that decrease the desire to find something better. The Organization need to be ensure that work environment is in place that make it clear to every employee how their job contributes to the success of team members and the entire operation. Interdependent partnerships create a feeling of ownership that enhances relationships and increases results.

This can be achieved by promoting activities that help the employees release stress

a) Conducting programs where after wok hours employees can perform music, theatre etc.

b) Conducting quiz competitions etc

c) Conducting some sport events.

Benefits:

It would lead to a relaxed, fun-filled environment that would be conducive to the enhanced productivity from employees.

The fourth important reason the employees tend to leave is because of extreme office politics.
The most important reason of stress at workplace is the petty office politics and hidden agendas. Even if one does not participate and just observe, then also it results in trauma for lot of people. Many times ordinarily exceptional employees find themselves trapped by others whose only desire is to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as they can. Every organization and Organization is no exception in it does have some undercurrents running in the projects that adversely affect the performance of those projects and the morale of the employees working through it.

Suggestions:

Stricter HR policies need to be in place to counter these unproductive tendencies. The employees need to be made aware of these priorities through all means of communications like e-mails, notice board etc.

Benefits:

An environment that is free of office politics would do a lot of good to the morale of the employees.

The fifth important reason why employees tend to leave is the lack of rewards

If the employees perceive that the work/reward ratio is skewed against them, then that needs to be rectified. A lack of rewards not only produces less funds in employees pocket; it also contributes to stress, negative attitude, lack of enthusiasm and lowered morale. If one is not receiving the salary or benefits that he was promised, or have not received adequate increases for several years then they would certainly leave.

Suggestions:

Organization has a number of good award programs but more need to be done to ensure that the natural human craving for appreciation is satisfied. Periodic raises, increased benefits and corporate perks are the usual rewards for a job well done.

a) A concept of Brownie Points can be initiated to bring more employees under the fold of award programs. For every task completed, a number of Brownie points can be awarded in the ratio of how well the task was done like total no of bugs in the program etc. At the end of every quarter these accumulated points can be used to adjudge the winners.

b) The monetary rewards are not the only thing employees crave for. The managers at Organization also needs to be trained on the following areas

· Appreciation and Recognition of the efforts: All employees need their share of appreciation. The best performers might not crave for it and would usually maintain excellence without recognition. They are internally motivated and hold themselves to a high standard. Sincere recognition to such employees ensures that they don’t look for a better environment in which to utilize their talents. On the other hand average or poor performers can be motivated by the realization that managers are willing to recognize their value rather than only look for the negative. The majority of employees do a good job each day. They view recognition as verification that their performance matters. It is an important management dogma that a one-percent increase in performance from those who simply meet expectations makes a tremendous difference in the bottom-line.

· Accurate and specific feedback is provided in a positive manner. The communication is the key here. Everyone wants information about how they are doing compared to the expectations for their performance. The best feedback acknowledges effort, points the individual toward success, and encourages personal responsibility.

· Make recognition and encouragement a priority. Providing sincere, honest, and specific recognition should be expected from every manager. There is no need to wait for performance that exceeds expectations. Recognition and encouragement are also effective when others have consistently met expectations over time, improved substantially, or plateau despite consistent effort.

Benefits:

These steps would lead to satisfied employees.

These are some of the most important reasons why people tend to leave an organization. This list has been prepared on my own personal experience or on the experiences of the people close to me, my friends, my relatives etc. The list of reasons is not exhaustive and any HR department could add a score of more reasons and give a perfectly sane explanation for them. All industries are currently plagued with the ills of attrition and there is no panacea for it. It requires significant effort from top management to instil culture of confidence, trust and camaraderie in the organization to control it.

Tarun Rattan

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