Alan Hosking, the publisher of HR Future magazine, posted the following article in the June Edition (2011):  Are your people leaving because of you ?  I hope it will make one re-evaluate or re-assess your current management style, as well as perhaps zone in on key individuals within your organisation who may not be creating a comfortable working environment .  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the business  of BUSINESS, that we lose touch with one of our most important assets – our people.

“Retention of talent is big business. Companies are spending a lot of time and money on it. There’s a good reason for that. When you have managed to attract and recruit good talent, the last thing you want is to have your competition poach them after you’ve spent money on training them for their specific role.

That’s why, after you’ve spent a whole bag of money on getting them on board, it’s important to spend an equal amount of money looking after your asset – keeping them on board. The last thing you want is for them to go walkabout after you’ve spent so much on getting them to work for you.

In an increasingly mobile workplace, which has an increasing number of opportunities emerging every month, it’s unrealistic to think that you will be handing out gold watches (or iPad equivalents?) for-25 year service awards. You accept that, like children growing up in the family home, your talented people are going to leave before you’re ready for them to leave.

Many reasons are suggested as to why people leave a company. Some of these include, in no particular order, better opportunities for growth, better employer brand, more convenient location, and the old favourite, better pay.

These are all valid reasons. So companies who are serious about keeping their talent address those issues – at great cost. Then, to their horror, they find that, despite having made sure that they’re providing opportunities for growth, that they’re spending a lot of time and money on improving their employer brand, and paying top dollar, talent STILL leaves!

What to do?
It’s possible that they haven’t considered the one weak point in their retention strategy – the immediate superior. It’s a very common, but little noticed fact that a massive amount of smart people leave a company simply because they can’t stand their boss. It’s as simple as that. By “boss” I’m not referring to the head honcho occupying the CEO’s office, although that does not exclude him or her, but I’m referring to the very person to which that talented employee reports.

If you want to retain talent and do it in a cheap but not nasty way, you should simply introduce a “make bosses more likeable” campaign to teach (not train) everyone who has someone reporting to them how to handle people in a courteous and supportive way. If you think that bosses who are highly qualified and bright automatically know how to handle people, you’re making a big mistake. They don’t. Some of them do, but most of them don’t.

Would it be wise to let someone who has had no financial training or qualifications take responsibility for the company’s finances? Not at all! Then why do we let people take responsibility for the company’s most important asset, their people, without any appropriate training?

Just by making all the so-called “bosses” in your company aware of the importance of actually just being nice to the people they manage (apart from all the other things they need to be), and by encouraging such behaviour, you will be able to reduce the turnover of your talent in a significant way.

And then, of course, the big question: how about you? Are you responsible for managing others? While you may be very efficient and all that, do they actually LIKE you? Sure, you’re not there to win a popularity contest, but it’s very small minded to think that the only way you can influence people is by being nasty to them.

Next time you engage with your staff, observe yourself to work out how you’re coming across. When all is said and done, would YOU work for you? If not, why not?