Manager's Corner: Train employees to retain employees

Manager's Corner
Train employees to retain employees

I shared in last month's article the frightful statistics that predict continued--if not--growing problems with employee retention. In that article--"Gaining Employees"--I also shared my thoughts on how to alleviate those issues by hiring better candidates. In this article, I'd like to focus on how to train your new and current employees better to again increase your chances of retaining them. I'll do this by sharing the three most common training mistakes organizations make.
The first mistake I see many organizations make, is they don't start to train their new employees until after they hire them. That's often too late! We need to start training our prospective employees before we ever interview them--or make them a job offer. Why? To make it very clear to them--from their first contact with us--what kind of organization we are, what type of persons we seek as employees, what behaviors we expect of ourselves and all who work with us, and what we expect them to be able to do while they work with us. We do this so they have a clear understanding as to the type of organization they may become a part of and what skills they'll be expected to demonstrate. They can then decide if it's the right type of organization and job for them.
We make them aware of who we are by simply posting our Values Statement on our website, in our offices, lobbies, and anywhere a prospective candidate may come in contact with it. We also review these values with all candidates during our first interviews with them to tell them specifically, what behaviors we expect and what standards we hold ourselves and all who work with us to. We also share with them the specific skills the job currently requires and the skills we anticipate it will require 12-18 months from now. We do this so the candidate knows that this job may well grow and change. Given that, new skills will be needed and our employees will be expected to develop and learn them. Next, if we decide to offer jobs to the candidates, we now provide them copies of the values and the specific job descriptions. We've now communicated three different times to our prospective employees--before they're on staff with us--what to expect of us and what we expect of them.
Once on staff, we should provide a basic orientation to the organization to all new staff. This helps them learn the basic logistics of the facilities, the basic rules to follow, and who to see for support and guidance. This is often the second mistake in training organizations make. They forget the orientation process and just assume new employees will "pick things up". They will. It's just time-consuming, unprofessional, and dangerous--because who knows what they'll pick up and from whom? As managers, we need to guide employee orientations to our organizations and not leave this critical step to chance.
The third mistake most organizations make is they don't share with new employees how they fit into the "big picture." Again, most organizations anticipate employees will simply "get it." Most don't. Therefore, we need to share with our employees the basics of our organization's strategic plan so they know how and where they fit in. We also need to share with them the goals the organization has, goals their department has, and specific individual goals we'd like to see them achieve. All employees are important. Their jobs are important, and they need to know how and where they fit in.
Finally, we need to provide them either basic or very specific job skills training to allow them to successfully perform the jobs they were hired to do. Sadly, this is the only aspect of training most organizations think of or provide when they train their employees. If this is the only element of job training you provide, can you see how you've created an environment where your employees only see one small aspect of the big picture? Can you see why your employees don't provide input for solving problems within the organization? Can you see why your employees don't seem to have a clue what goes on with your customers and in other departments? Can you see how you've created an environment employees don't want to stay in?
If you don't want to see your employees leave your organization to work else- where, start creating an environment they want to be a part of. Start training them before they're your employees. Start training them to start retaining them.

Liz Weber of Weber Business Services, LLC. WBS specializes in Strategic, Business, and Succession Planning, as well as employee and leadership training. Contact: liz@wbsllc.com or 717-597-8890