Merge's Blog

How to keep your best people? Get to know them personally

In October, I started a short series on the blog on specific things that leaders can do to keep their best people from walking out the door. My posts on giving sincere praise often, buffering staff from bureaucracy, and paying people fairly were well received, so I thought it would be worthwhile adding to this list. So today, and for the next three posts, I am going to offer up four more ideas to prevent your top-notch employees from jumping ship and heading over to the competition. Today’s suggestion: get to know your people personally.

CoffeeMeetingNow I’m not proposing that you should become best friends with your staff, but I am suggesting that you should get to know them at more than just a superficial level. Who are your employees … really? What drives and motivates them, what makes them get up in the morning and excites them about coming to work? What are their goals and aspirations, what is the legacy they want to leave? What are the names and ages of their children, their hobbies and interests when they are not at work? Find out about their beloved pets and their relatives “back home”. When you take the time to get to know – really get to know – your people, it helps you understand them better; it helps you recognize what inspires them; it builds up their self-esteem and self-worth. All factors that make employees want to stay, rather than leave. The truth is that when people have a personal relationship with you, it’s harder for them to leave and go elsewhere.

One specific idea that I give to managers is to set up periodic one-on-one coffee meetings with their direct reports. These meetings can be used to discuss work issues, but there should always be a portion of just getting to know them.

Well, what do you think? Does this work? Or is this suggestion fraught with hazards? Please share your experiences by adding your comments below.

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