Employee retention, Big Red Car? Sounds boring, BRC.
Big Red Car here touring the great state of Florida — not me, The Boss. Come home, Boss. Get back to work.
So, The Boss is talking to a bunch of his CEOs — brilliant all — and the subject is key employee retention, which The Boss says is just employee retention, key and otherwise.
All of the CEOs say, “I’m a great CEO. Always looking, always scouting for talent, always hiring.”
“What,” asks The Boss, “does that have to do with keeping your people? Employee retention?”
They agree on the answer, “Nothing. It’s just another thing good CEOs are doing — talent spotting. Has nothing to do with keeping the people you already have.”
In 33 years of CEO-ing, you will learn a few things because if you can’t keep your people, you won’t be a CEO for very long. Boom!
For the next few days, we are going to explore this subject but it boils down to the following basic concepts:
1. Run a good company — a huge subject pregnant with possibilities — which people will want to join and get their fingerprints on the murder weapon.
2. Ensure that you hire people for a job that they and you understand. There are tools and processes to make that easy.
Onboard them in such a fashion that they will remember it for the rest of time. Make it like Christmas or the 4th of July.
3. Keep score and ask the tough questions in the performance appraisal process. [You don’t have a performance appraisal process? Easy as pie to fix. Search this site and see what is at your fingertips. It’s all here already.]
4. Keep the founding campfire alive, red hot, and tell the story until the team goes out and gets it tattooed on their inner thighs. People are throwing in with the story. Be a storyteller.
5. Communicate. Shoot, move, communicate (OK, that’s the infantry, different deal. Sorry. Just communicate.) There is no such thing as over communication.
6. Manage by wandering around and don’t miss any opportunity to create a non-traditional, unscripted feedback loop. (This is not a keg on Friday afternoons and a foosball table. Trust me on this one.)
7. Have a slightly sophisticated compensation program which marries salary, benefits, short-term incentive comp, long-term incentive comp, and that “something special” which makes for a bespoke relationship. The days of slipping someone a bit of equity — which is very expensive to the founders and the investors — are over. Now, you have to slip a web over their entire existence. Golden handcuffs? Golden web.
8. Get feedback through the performance appraisal process and by undertaking an Anonymous Company Survey. [The Boss says he never failed to learn something startling in the Anonymous Company Survey and once shut down an operating unit the next day after what he learned in such an exercise. You have blind spots, CEO darlings; this helps you see the bald spot on the back of your head. Mirror.]
9. Find a gray haired eminence, a boardmember, a CEO coach who has actually run a company — not a faux venture capitalist, lawyer, accountant, or your Uncle Bob who has ridden a lot of miles in first class, but who has not actually flown a plane — and develop a mentor relationship with them. It IS lonely being a CEO. No revelation there and, “No, your generation didn’t invent sex or business, so there is a lot of experience out there. Rent it. Don’t pay full tuition to get it. Rent it.”
In the weeks ahead, we will be digging into each of these concepts and I will leave you with a road map, trip directions, a compass, processes, and exemplars which will guide you through the realization — YOU CAN KEEP YOUR EMPLOYEES IF YOU WILL DO SOME VERY SIMPLE STUFF. Fail to do this stuff and the clock is set and ticking. [OK, it isn’t really that damn simple, but it can be and you will think it simple when you do the work. Do. The. Work.]