Most people are not entrepreneurs. However, we are presently living in a period where many employees appear to be both dreaming about, and taking action towards either self-employment, or searching for a “unicorn” company. In other words, the type of company that ticks off all of the aspects of what an ideal company would be like to be employed by. Does this company exist?
Perhaps because the definition of what an ideal company to work for is harder to define, or even harder to find if you do come up with a definition, is there a happy medium that employees would be content with? This puts both the employee and the employer in a difficult stand-off, but not an impossible one.
One of the challenges companies face with retaining employees is the employee’s dissatisfaction with feeling like they are truly serving a purpose by working there. Let’s face it, in reality it will be a stretch for many companies to be able to define and align their company with offering all of their employees a heartfelt purpose for working there. Or is it?
Sure, some companies will have obvious reasons you will want to work there, and it could be based on the mission or the product or services they are offering others, but what if your company doesn’t fall into these categories? The good news is that despite the fact a company many not have an intriguing reason for attracting and retaining employees to be there, there is something else they should be considering. A consideration that a number of sports teams and their coaches have cracked the code on.
When you think about a sports team, you might first consider who the team is lead and coached by. You might then consider the type of sport they play, and where their team is located. All things not being equal, I’ll keep this analogy simple, as I see and want to share some dramatic parallels to sports teams being compared to companies.
The first parallel is that both sports teams and companies all have a defined leader. The second comparison is that in both scenarios, the people all need to work together. They also need to do their best work to have a quality outcome. So, how is it that some teams and companies are able to consistently outperform others? Are they stronger, smarter, more talented, being paid more, or are they more motivated or in better health? Perhaps, but none of these are the reasons some teams and companies will have better retention than others.
One of the reasons that sports teams and some companies have figured out and cracked the code on being successful with employee retention has nothing to do with a tangible aspect. It has to do with how the athletes and employees feel about how much they are appreciated by their coach or leader. Is it really that simple? Actually, it is, but the hard part is figuring out how to make athletes and employees feel appreciated.
Let’s dial-up the “way back” machine and take all of us back to when we were first entering school. One of the things most of us were taught, or witnessed, was that it was important to be nice to others. To apply simple manners and to be respectful of one another. Do any of these things cost any money? No, but they are some of the foundational aspects of what contributes to why athletes and employees remain at their company. Even thrive.
When a person feels they are treated well, are respected by their surrounding team members, are being invested in by their coach or leader (e.g., via attention, challenging them, communicating and listening to them, teaching and mentoring them) this matters. Or, if a person feels that they are contributing in their own way to a collective goal or mission, this will make all of the difference in a teams or a company’s retention levels. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that this formula isn’t either understood, or appears to be a mystery or magic trick for sports teams and companies who are having retention challenges. Is this your team or company?
You don’t have to pay attention to the news to know about the Great Resignation, you simply can talk to anyone in your personal or professional circle and you will learn about someone who is part of this scenario. Perhaps you are even someone contributing to it? If you are contributing to this scenario, or if you are a sports team or employer trying to figure out how to retain your greatest asset (e.g., team members, employees), I have some suggestions for you.
For sports team members/employees:
- Other than making a living, what research did you do to determine your team or employer was the right fit for you? Have you defined what the “right fit” is for you?
- If you haven’t defined what your values are, it would be a great time to do this too, as you can then have a higher percentage of them aligning with the team you will be joining.
- Can you play a role in being a mentor or finding a mentor on your team or at your company?
- If having a flexible schedule is important to you, but not for your company, could you reach a compromise?
- Are there projects or opportunities within your company that would be an incentive for you to be engaged with? Sometimes doing activities/projects outside of what we are professionally focused on, can help to inspire you to want to continue working there.
- When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your coach or boss? If your answer was never, can you imagine attempting to have this type of conversation?
- Is personal balance in your life compromised because you either feel compelled, or have to work constantly? Or, you feel this way because your mind is occupied by work or your team 24/7? Is this your challenge to contend with, or is the team or company culture contributing to this? Maybe both? Only you can control your balance.
- Do you know how to strike a balance between your personal and team/work scenario? Sometimes it’s easier to apply the blame on external factors, when it’s you that are the actual culprit for not investing in learning how to find balance in your life.
- What investments have you made, or programs have you recently offered that would make your company or team more attractive to be a part of?
- What are you doing to make your employees feel valued and appreciated?
- Have you asked your team or employees what matters to them, and what beyond a paycheck and benefits are reasons they are associated with your team or company?
- How would you rate your ability to inspire and motivate your team or employees on a regular basis?
- How comfortable are you with having vulnerable and meaningful conversations with your team or employees? If your comfort level is low, have you considered what you can do to increase your level?
- What do you really know about your team or employees beyond what their resume or they have told you? Chances are good that this is an area you could significantly improve upon, and with many options which could be considered to do so.
- If you were to design a blueprint for the ideal company to work at, can you honestly say that you know what the ideal company blueprint would include? Start by coming up with 5-10 ideas that you can brainstorm on with others.
We all can agree that making your team or company a “sticky” or ideal place to work won’t happen overnight. However, making the investment in figuring out the equation to do so will be beyond worth it, as it will provide you and those impacted with the satisfaction of being on a team or at a company that isn’t just a placeholder on their team or work resume. Imagine being on this team or working at that type of company. It does exist, and I hope you find it, or create it.
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