People are the most important asset. The reality is that people are not assets. People are the core of your business!
Employees follow and trust leaders that genuinely care about them. In fact, I have learned that people will work harder for you and follow your leadership if they know you care about and respect them.
Many leaders believe that the business comes before the people. Wrong! The people are the business! Richard Branson said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Another leader said, “If you exceed the expectations of your employees, they will consistently exceed the expectations of your customers.”
I would add “Treat your people better than your customers and your customers will treat you better than your competitors.”
So what does this mean to you as a leader? You must recognize that people drive your business. Your focus must be on coaching and leading your people. At the center of many great companies is the recognition that employees are vital for their success. Therefore great companies spend a lot of time ensuring that employees have opportunities to develop on the job. They create opportunities for employees to take on additional responsibilities, train and have new experiences. These opportunities and experiences are not just for high potential employees; they are for every employee.
An estimated 42 million employees will leave their jobs in 2018, according to a Work Institute’s 2018 Retention Report released in 2018. The top reason employees gave for leaving was lack of opportunity to learn or develop skills (21%). In another survey, employees ranked the lack of learning and development to enhance their skills and competencies as the number two reason they left their company.
In order to retain your best talent, they must be recognized, receive feedback about their performance and be given opportunities to develop. There must be a well organized and structured coaching, learning and talent development program. The training department, talent management group and a senior leader sponsor can ensure this happens. It is important to recognize that development opportunities are more important than training. The most effective training is experiential. It is on the job experiences that stretch and challenge employees. Employees that are given opportunities to develop and learn new things will be more engaged and productivity and retention will increase.
It is vital that companies establish a coaching culture. This culture starts at the top. Senior leaders must consistently model what great coaching looks like. All leaders must be held accountable to become effective coaches. Coaching must be a two-way conversation. Leaders must understand how their employees want to be coached and tailor coaching to the strengths, weaknesses and needs of each individual.
Leaders must provide consistent verbal and written coaching and feedback to employees. This is where most leaders fall short. Even when leaders provide verbal feedback, most do not follow up with written feedback. Written feedback must be given to the employee within 48 hours of the verbal feedback. It must be consistent with the verbal feedback. The leader must consistently follow up with the employee to ensure progress is being made on the action items included in the written feedback.
When companies put people first, they demonstrate a commitment that creates a bond of trust with employees and buy in to the company vision.
People should be at the center of every company’s strategy. Developing a strong people-focused strategy and culture can be a competitive advantage. It can improve engagement and retention. It can only be accomplished when senior leadership establishes a people-focused culture, models the behaviors, and holds leaders accountable to live it!
If you are interested in finding out more about how to develop a People-Focused leadership approach, please contact me via LinkedIn or my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.