Tag Archives: effective leaderhsip

The Top 5 Reasons Employees Leave

In 1998, I moved from my native New York to Washington, DC searching for a fresh start. I needed to get away after some of the toughest months of my life: my parents were divorcing after 25 years of marriage, I had just broken up with my boyfriend, and my grandfather had just died of Alzheimer’s disease. I figured things could only get better. My best friend from college lived in DC, so I quit my job, loaded my Saturn SL with all my belongings, and moved 300 miles away to a new city with no job.

I was pretty new in the corporate world, so I was willing to start near the bottom and work my way up. I took a job at a small technology firm as an office manager. On my first day, the HR director told me they were going to sit me at the front desk temporarily until they hired a receptionist. She also told me that the CEO didn’t like the title “office manager,” so they would be changing my title to “administrative assistant.” Needless to say, the three months I spent with the company were not my happiest. I was disengaged, didn’t trust management, and didn’t feel appreciated.

Have you ever had an experience working in a job you didn’t love? It’s tough to stay engaged if you work for a micromanaging boss, if the work environment is stifling, or there’s no sense of appreciation from management.

Unfortunately, my experience of feeling disengaged on the job is more the norm than the exception for many people.

Studies show the top reasons employees quit include:

  • Not feeling appreciated
  • No advancement opportunities or development
  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of clarity around expectations
  • A bad boss

Most leaders think the reason employees leave is because of money. While being paid fairly is important, for most employees, other factors like a great work environment, a good boss, and work-life balance contribute to better engagement at work.

So, how do you ensure you keep your top employees? Below are three simple tips for increasing engagement on your team.

Upgrade your leadership skills. Being a leader is more challenging today than ever before. Employees have more choices and opportunities. The expectations are higher. Exceptional leaders always look to improve their leadership skills by reading books, listening to leadership podcasts, and attending conferences and training classes to enhance their skills. One of my favorite leadership resources is Success magazine. Each issue is packed with leadership tips and even has a CD with interviews from leadership experts.

Conduct stay interviews. Most organizations conduct exit interviews to gather feedback when employees quit. A stay interview is when you have a conversation before the employee decides to leave. The purpose is to understand what will keep your best employees engaged. If you want to learn how to conduct an effective stay interview, I offer tips in this article: Stay Interviews

Hold regular staff meetings. According to research firm Gallup, employees are three times more likely to be engaged when their manager holds regular staff meetings. Use your staff meetings to set priorities, answer questions, and coach your employees through challenges. Most employees feel they are given little guidance for understanding what is expected of them. Individual coaching sessions and regular staff meetings help to create clarity for your team.

Engagement isn’t just about having happy employees. It’s about having productive employees. And productivity increases your revenues and impacts your bottom line. Productive employees tend to be happier, which decreases your turnover rates. This all adds up to a more profitable business.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. In the comments section below, tell me:

What is one thing you do to keep your employees engaged?

My Five Favorite Leadership Books

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers” ~Harry Truman

When was the last time you saw a positive and uplifting story on the news or the Internet? Our news media is saturated with negative stories and messages. While it’s good to be informed about current events, as leaders it serves us to feed our minds with positive information and stories so we can inspire and empower our teams.

Not only is reading a way to improve our intelligence, generate ideas, and inspire innovation, it can also reduce stress. One study showed that reading for just six minutes reduced stress by 68% (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html).

Many of the most successful business leaders are readers. Steve Jobs was an avid reader of William Blake, Warren Buffet spends up to 80% of his time reading or thinking, and Elon Musk is reported to have read two books a day as a child.

Bottom line: reading can make you a better leader. Exceptional leaders are always looking to improve their skills and become more effective.

John Coleman, author of the Harvard Business Review article, “For Those Who Want to Lead, Read,” suggests reading material in different genres; not just leadership or business books. He cites that many business professionals claim that reading across fields is good for creativity and innovation. (https://hbr.org/2012/08/for-those-who-want-to-lead-rea/)

I occasionally read historical books by David McCullough and historical fiction. Mostly, I gravitate to leadership and personal development books. If you are looking to add some books to your reading list, here are my five favorite leadership and personal development books:

1) The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni illustrates why organizational health is more important than other variables like strategy, marketing, and finance. An organization that is smart, but not healthy, will not be successful. Lencioni shares four disciplines that must be done all at once and maintained on an ongoing basis to be preserved. The four disciplines are:

1. Build a cohesive leadership team
2. Create clarity
3. Overcommunicate clarity
4. Reinforce clarity

This brilliant book illustrates how these four disciplines overcome organizational issues like dysfunction, politics, and confusion. This book is a must read for leaders; particularly executives.

2) Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown is a book I recently read, and I couldn’t put it down. Not just because of the author’s compelling stories, but because I was craving more simplicity in my life. McKeown shares a systematic discipline for deciding what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter. This is not a book about time management, it is a book about life management. If you are craving more space, time, and better results in your life, this book will help you get there.

3) The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield isn’t just a book about professional success; it’s a book about life success. Canfield shares 67 principles that will propel you to success. That may seem like a lot of principles, but some of them are so simple, it’s a matter of making a decision and sticking to it. Whether you want to become more clear about your purpose in life, achieve greater levels of success, become a better leader, increase your confidence, or become a better parent, this book will transform your life. I felt so motivated and inspired by this book, that I signed up for Jack’s training on how to teach these principles.

4) Leadership From the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life by Kevin Cashman is my favorite leadership book of all time. If every leader read this book, we would have a world of exceptional leaders! What I like most about this book is that every chapter has exercises and reflections to help put the concepts into practice. This book isn’t about fixing weaknesses or just implementing a few strategies like many other books. Cashman guides the reader through a journey to grow as a whole person in order to grow as a whole leader. His model focuses on mastery in the following areas: personal, purpose, change, interpersonal, being, resilience, and action. It’s refreshing, inspirational and backed by research. If you read one leadership book this year, let this be the one!

5) The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller provides tools for increased productivity, less stress, and better results in less time. Keller shares the lies that mislead and derail us and then provides tools for clearing the clutter and focusing. One of my favorite nuggets from this book is the focusing question which is the simple formula to finding exceptional answers that lead to extraordinary results. The focusing question is: “What’s the one thing I can so such by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This question can be applied to all areas of your life. This book is another inspiring read on how to cut through all the distractions and lead a high quality life.

What is one of your favorite leadership books? Please share in the comments below!

Where You Should Spend 80% of Your Time

Have you ever left the office at the end of the day, knowing you worked really hard, but unable to pinpoint what you really accomplished? I used to have many days like this; days where I was really busy, but I wasn’t able to find the time to work on the most important areas that would make the biggest impact in my role as a human resources executive.

There is one exercise you can do that will dramatically change your leadership and how you work. If you do this exercise, you will become massively more productive and save so much time in your day, that you will be able to really focus on the areas that are important in your role as a leader.

The exercise is to define your key result areas. The key result areas of a position are the three to five main results that you must accomplish to perform the job successfully and make the maximum contribution.   It’s the value the position brings to the organization; the reasons why the position was created. The key result areas can’t be delegated (although you may delegate tasks or duties that support your key result areas) or outsourced. Defining your key result areas gives you clarity around what you should be doing so that you can focus, be highly productive, and make the most impact in your role.

Most leaders struggle to be productive and get results because they are very vague about what they should be doing on a daily basis. They spend most days being reactive and putting out fires. Defining your key result areas identifies the most important areas you should be working on; where you should be spending at least 80% of your time.  

Here is an example of possible key result areas for a human resources executive:

1. Create a strategy to develop and maintain an exceptional work culture that engages employees

2. Coach and develop the human resources employees to be successful in their jobs and reach their highest potential

3. Create a strategy for developing the organization’s leaders into highly effective, engaging and successful leaders

4. Create a talent strategy to attract and retain the most exceptional employees in the metro area

Your key result areas may be different based on the size of your organization and the company’s strategy. But notice they are not low level tasks that can be accomplished by staff members. Most leaders spend 80% of their time on tasks and 20% of their time on key result areas. To be an effective, successful leader, you must spend 80% of your time on key result areas.  

What are your key result areas? Set aside a half hour to get clear on your key result areas and then evaluate how you are currently spending your time. Delegate or outsource the tactical areas that can be handled by someone else. If you find yourself saying, “I am the only one who can do this task,” then develop a staff member to handle it. Remember that delegation doubles your productivity. Review your key result areas when planning your month, week and day, and you will become much more productive, effective leader.