Why Do Employees Stay?

I’ve been blogging about First, Break All the Rules, calling it the best management book I’ve read. Here’s more of what it says that I find so helpful.

We measure all kinds of things in our organizations—sales, profit, growth, productivity, square footage and so on. But Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman say that there’s no measuring stick for a manager’s ability to find, focus and keep talented people. They try to fill in the gap by identifying the key questions every employee asks, consciously or unconsciously (pp. 43ff.).

The answers to these questions can provide a helpful measure of how likely talented employees are to stay and how likely a business is to be profitable and productive, and have customer satisfaction. The authors compare the groups of questions to climbing a mountain like Everest, in which mountaineers use successively higher camps as they assault the mountain. What are the questions?

Base Camp: What Do I Get?
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

Camp 1: What Do I Give? (Measures self-esteem and worth.)
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Camp 2: Do I Belong?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?

Camp 3: How Can We All Grow?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?

No matter how high an employee rates Camp 2 or Camp 3, Buckingham and Coffman suggest, the longer the needs of Base Camp and Camp 1 are unmet, the more likely an employee is to burnout, become unproductive and leave. Great managers take aim at Base Camp and Camp 1.

Here’s a quick exercise to put this in practice: Based on the first six questions, what would you do differently at your next supervisory or team meeting?

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.