Mistakes that are costing you staff (and respect)

By Jeremy Wilson November 20, 2015 Industry News

I’m in a unique position as a recruitment professional, in that I spend a lot of time talking to people who are leaving their employer…

Now, note that I don’t say leaving their job, because generally that’s not the case, as evidenced by the number of people who leave a role, only to move on to a very similar role within a similar business.

Why do they do this? Because you’ve lost them. They don’t believe in you anymore. There has been a disconnect.

And all too often I hear these same four reasons:


1.You made strategic or directional changes and didn’t involve key people

You wouldn’t have hired the people you chose for their clairvoyant abilities so expecting them to blindly follow you insults their intelligence.

Chances are that they are brimming full of ideas and market feedback which you can benefit from.

Good leaders communicate regularly and well. And great leaders involve their staff in strategic conversations in order to fine-tune the directives and earn buy-in.

Including your staff in higher level discussions elevates their thinking and engages them. Engaged staff are happy staff.


2.You refused to value your employees’ time

This one is a fundamental that in your “busy-ness” you’ve started to pass off as being OK. And the rule is pretty simple. Lead by example.

Don’t turn up late to meetings – or don’t show at all. Don’t ask someone to stay late without giving them a chance to plan this with their family. Don’t offer to spend time with someone and take calls, look at your watch, or cut it short because “there’s something else I’ve got to rush off to”.

We’re all guilty of it because we’re busy, right? Well I’d say it’s better to value your employees’ time than to get busy hiring.

I recall years ago having a job interview with a man named Clinton Jones, who was at the time a National Sales Manager. Clinton had a plaque on his desk that read “Be Here Now”.

For him, this was a reminder that time spent with your people is the best time you can spend – and when you do it, turn your phone or screen off and really focus on them.

So be present and take the time to talk through their issues. This is how you’ll learn about what’s really happening in your business.


3.You didn’t walk the walk

I don’t think anyone develops and keeps respect for a leader who doesn’t practice what they preach.

Key examples of this include: asking people to do things you won’t; hypocritical statements, asking for excellence and only delivering averageness; or expecting your team to work their posteriors off while you waltz out of the office at 3pm with your golf clubs over your shoulder.

Get in the trenches with your people, share your knowledge and show them how good you are!


4.You didn’t say thanks

The days of expecting gratitude for giving someone a job are gone. Get over it. People will be grateful for how you make them feel, not because you pay them a wage.

To be the leader they choose to follow, you will be expected to correct them when they’re wrong and praise them when they’ve achieved.

So many times, and at all levels, I’ve heard stories that sound like: “We worked our butts off to bring in the project and didn’t even get a thanks”. Or “I worked a 60-hour week and he didn’t even mention it”.

Try showing some gratitude. Thank people for their work and offer recognition as part of your award system.

Here’s a very simple question – would you work for you?

These are pretty basic lessons, I do admit. But this is the kind of feedback I am getting all too often.

As managers we do spend a lot of time focused on the bigger picture issues and sometimes forget the small stuff.

But, by eliminating these negatives, you could save yourself some time and money and grow your leadership status – something which you have no doubt worked very hard to earn.



Jeremy Wilson is General Manager of Build People, a search recruitment business with contacts across hardware, consumer goods, electronics and FMCG. Call 021 732 788 or visit www.buildpeople.co.nz  for more information.

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