Train Your Front-Line Supervisors to Keep Good Employees
High employee turnover is costly, costly, costly! According to the Rainmaker Group, loss of a low-skilled, hourly worker costs around 50% of that worker’s annual wage and benefits; loss of upper management can cost three to five time in annual earnings.
As the economy improves, predictions are that turnover will increase. So what can you do to stem the tide? Improved wages and working conditions are a couple of things that come to mind, and should be evaluated. However these often aren’t the most critical motivators.
Reduce Employee Turnover with Excellent People Management Skills
Your turnover ratio (the number of employees who leave vs. the number who stay over a one-year period) can be a window into understanding employee satisfaction within your organization. It can indicate how well managers are interacting with employees and what kind of organizational culture exists in the workplace. “It’s about people management”, says Clara Lippert Glenn, president and CEO of The Oxford Princeton Programme. “It’s about managing their expectations, their motivations, their problems, and even their joys”. In other words, managers and supervisors must be trained to not only attract good people, but to create a positive work environment.
Five Techniques to Get You Started
1. Use Positive Language. No one likes to hear only what’s wrong. It’s wearing. It’s degrading. It’s divisive and detrimental to morale. Even if you’re delivering bad news or declining a request, there are ways to focus on what is good in the situation.
Whenever possible, highlight the positive.
Emphasize what CAN be done, rather than what can’t.
Demonstrate willingness to find a solution.
When news is bad, show empathy and take time to explain the reasons behind the decision.
2. Listen Actively. Managers can transform their relationship with staff and increase productivity by using simple, effective listening skills.
Listen to the entire message. Sounds simple enough. But if most of us listen our own conversations, we may find ourselves interrupting far more than we’re aware of—consequently never getting the full story.
Give your full attention. Nod in understanding. Make eye contact. Silence the phone. Avoid multitasking and interruptions.
Confirm that you understand by paraphrasing what you hear. Use open-ended questions to clarify.
3. Offer Sincere Praise. Don’t wait for the entire goal to be achieved. Instead, recognize the mini-milestones along the way. Employees will feel valued and supported and, consequently, more committed to their jobs. A simple formula for helping your managers deliver praise is for them to “place a BET”:
B = Behavior: Let the employee know what they are doing well, so they can continue doing it.
E = Effect: Communicate how that behavior has had a positive impact on the company, customer, the team, etc.
T = Thank: Say thank you, and encourage them to continue improving.
4. Empower Your Staff. OK, “empower” is sort of a trendy buzzword right now, but don’t overlook it. It’s derived from the 17th–century term meaning to “invest with authority”, and has evolved to mean “enable” or “permit”. So, when you “empower” your employees, you’re investing them with the authority to make decisions that provide solutions for their individual customers. They will feel trusted and responsible, not only for their own success but for the company’s.
Delegate certain decisions and activities so that, with proper supervision, agents will have success in taking on that responsibility. Allow them to take some risks.
Get their input. Ask employees how they would solve a problem.
Treat agents as professionals. Teach them what you know so they can grow. Make them part of your team.
5. Get to Know Your Employees. Discover what motivates them and what special talents they may have. Set a tone of open communication and dialogue so that agents will feel more comfortable approaching you with issues. It’s easier to solve problems when you have rapport.
Spend time with your staff. Learn their backgrounds, previous accomplishments, and interests.
Have a regular presence on the call floor, observing how things work. Offer praise and feedback. Address problems while they are still small. At first your staff may think you are “spying” or micromanaging, but if you honestly use the time to improve conditions for your agents, this concern will pass.
It starts at the Top!
Good front-line supervision is critical to retaining good employees. While many of these suggestions sound simple and logical, they may not feel at all natural to supervisors who are used to more traditional ways of managing staff.