BOOK REVIEW & SUMMARY
Written by two proven business managers, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em was published in 1999 to address the growing issue of employee turnover in various business organizations. A lot of workers were switching employers at an exponential rate and the concept of loyalty was quickly degrading in the workspace. The book is a reference material for managers who intend on ensuring that their very best employees commit their futures to the company’s dream.
The ideologies of the authors are exemplified in the many experiences recounted through the 26 chapters of the book. The most artistic aspect of the book is the naming of the chapters. With 26 chapters named after the letters of the alphabet, chronologically, you may be forgiven for assuming it to be a forced endeavor. The opposite is true however as each chapter thoroughly engages the reader in the workings and methodology towards ensuring employee retention.
The book contains proven methods employed by the most successful managers the world over. You are given the keys towards ensuring your most talented workers remain loyal to your organization. The need to be adaptable and flexible is emphasized throughout the book; you cannot keep a talented worker if you restrict his chance to grow as a person. The book also contains self-assessment platforms to grade the level of your manager-employee relationship. Acting as a manual for willing managers, this book is perfect in any work environment. The techniques contained within the book are universally adaptable - you can employ the same methods the world over without any need for a massive sociocultural detour from the key points.
The book explores retention strategies that should be employed to ensure a comfortable work environment for your employees; leading to a more focused and productive worker. The importance of establishing, in a manner of speaking, a loving relationship between manager and employee is stressed throughout the length of the book. There is a huge misconception that financial incentives are the most important factors towards keeping hold of a worker, but this greatly minimizes the huge sway that the relationship between a manager and his subordinate plays in his/her decision to remain with an organization. Employees are more likely to remain with managers they have a cordial relationship with, spurning the advances of competitors out of a sense of loyalty to the boss.
The first two chapters of the book named Ask and Buck form the bedrock of the 26 strategies the book recommends to managers to boost employee retention.
ASK: Engage Your Employees On a Personal Level
The benefits of creating an open channel of communication between the manager and the employee are discussed. Employees are more receptive and forthcoming in a work environment that takes their ideas, opinions, and complaints into cognizance.
Letting employees state their demands creates an avenue to answer the key question in the quest for employee retention...
What can I do to keep you?
The importance of this question is driven home by the story of a manager who didn’t create an avenue for communication between management and staff, leading to the loss of a key worker who left due to an easily fixable issue. Conduct ‘Stay interviews’ during the duration of employment rather than making a last-ditch effort to keep a worker who has already checked out mentally. You can’t change the mind of a person who is hell-bent on leaving an organization and even if you do, you will always doubt his/her loyalty. Regularly ask your employees what pressing issues they have with the direction the company is on and you’ll be shocked to find out the divergent opinions members of staff of the same organization can hold.
Before you ask questions, you have to establish a homely workspace. Your workers must feel they have a personal relationship with you and a freedom to express their minds without fear of reprisal. Understand that your employees are not machinery but living, breathing assets with individual lives and they will appreciate you for that. Do not set inhumane or inconsiderate rules in the office; you risk creating a hostile, dull and depressing work environment. Allow your workers the chance to freely interact and you will notice a marked increase in productivity, a workplace with such warm conditions will be hard to abandon in search of a minor increase in financial rewards. Encourage your staff to see the organization as a family of sorts and promote positive interpersonal relationship among workers; check up on ailing workers and demonstrate how much the wellness of every single person counts in the smooth running of the company.
Find out what your employees have in mind as their projected career trajectory and have a well thought out discussion on what the company contributes towards achieving this dream. Understand what potential each and everyone in your employ possesses and assign them tasks that suit their specific talents and skills. Employees have responded to surveys saying they were more likely to remain in a company where they felt their careers could take a massive leap. Do not underutilize your employees, work them to their optimal capacity and let them gain valuable knowledge and experience on the job as they go on. However, you should not seek to control their career path. You can only play a mentor's role, offering your opinion on trends and putting ideas forward.
Honest, open communication between a manager and employees ensures that the wheels of the organization never come undone. There should be no intimidation or censorship of opinions put forward by a subordinate.
BUCK: Most of the keys to retaining talented employees are within the control of the manager.
The first thing you should realize as a manager is the glue that holds the workplace together. A recent study has shown that a great number of employees consider the bond they develop with their managers as the strongest motivation driving them to work. Wielding such an incredible power, it is easy to forget the need to perform some of the less heralded tasks of an office manager. A manager has to fill up vacancies with the right people since you cannot employ a square plug in a round hole and expect it to click. Hire based on talent; Don't be hasty to just fill a space. Employing the right fit across all departments creates a knock-on effect, where everyone, comfortable with their tasks, bond and interact.
In your capacity as a manager, you must ensure your organization’s mission, aims and goals are lofty and worth bragging about. It is human nature to want to be associated with a success story.
There is an excitement that one derives from going to a place of work where you feel like you’re an integral part of the company.
Treating your employees like a close-knit group hinges on you showing everyone that you appreciate the work they have been doing. Do not focus your entire praise on the Superstar workers. Rather, encourage every single person, especially those who don’t necessarily dazzle at work but put on a consistent level of productivity. Engage your workers and let them know how easy it is to interact with you and give their opinions of the workspace.
Rules that are impractical should be done away with. You cannot expect an employee who is forced to work extremely late hours to give his utmost best if he is being asked to choose between his/her familial obligations or work. There must be a compromise at this juncture, there must be a revamp of such archaic and outdated rules in the workplace. A work environment that has a receptive manager will possess a very low rate of voluntary employee turnover.
The importance of a degree of autonomy wielded by the worker is important. It is nearly impossible for a manager to micromanage his staff and at the same time have the ability to effectively interact in any way. Give your employees a chance to exhibit their imaginative, creative and assertive techniques or methods. However, you must still offer constructive criticism of their work in order to make sure they remain at the top of their game.
Realize that the employees are the biggest assets of every company. So instead of waiting till it’s too late, you have to obtain a measure of loyalty and commitment from your target employee. Replacing workers will cost you in the long run, so do not adopt a ‘simply replace' attitude to human resources. It has been discovered that the cost of replacing a highly skilled worker can be up to four times the old employee’s annual salary.
Managers have absolute control on the level of turnover to retention ratio in the workplace and as such must take care to ensure they diffuse all the tension in the workspace and create a conducive environment everyone would want to remain a part of. It should be noted, however, that financial rewards still play a huge role in employee retention and as such workers should be paid what they are worth. This should be reviewed from time to time in order to reflect the changing economic situation.
The 26 letters of the alphabet carry great meaning in this manual for successful business managers. With each chapter delivering profound knowledge and insights towards the problem of voluntary employee turnover.
Ask questions in the workplace. Give your employees an avenue to express themselves without the fear of reprimand or sanction.
The buck stops with you. Do not trivialize the role you have in ensuring your employees stay committed to you/the company. You have the majority of the powers.
Your employees have ambitions of their own. You have to help them fulfill their goals while at the same time ensuring they align with the direction in which the company is headed.
Your employees are not inferior beings. Treat them with the highest human decency and they will form a lasting bond with you.
Ensure that the workplace adds value to the lives of your workers. Let every day at work be a chance to gain new insight.
The family unit is paramount to most individuals, therefore ensure you do not create conflicts in your employees' personal lives.
Ensure that you set feasible goals and targets for your employees. Unreasonable expectations will lead to a breakdown in the relationship you have cultivated.
Make sure to hire the right person for the job. Do not employ simply because you have a vacancy. It is more prudent to keep a position vacant rather than fill it with an inappropriate hire.
The power of knowledge is unparalleled. Do not keep valuable information away from employees. They have a right to know details about the running of the organization they intend to commit to.
Always have a pleasant attitude in the workspace and away from it. A manager who has a sunny disposition is more likely to retain his workers compared to one who is unfriendly and cold.
Get a KICK out of what you do and ensure your employees get it as well.
Encourage your employees to create lasting connections. The world is fast becoming a global village and workplace connections can go a long way towards currying favors and benefits.
Provide guidance to your employees. Be a sort of ‘father figure', who they look up to for advice and direction. Doing this places you in a position of respect that factors in during recruitment drives.
Always have an estimation of the cost and fallout of losing an employee. This prepares you during negotiations and also helps you plan for a possible future without such a person.
Ensure you provide an avenue for growth in the workplace. Your employees want an opportunity to expand their portfolios and you should make sure they do that within the organization.
Place employees in positions where they can exploit their full potential. Make internal adjustments to make sure every employee enjoys and is passionate about their tasks.
Be adaptable and flexible. Rules that are archaic and disruptive should be reviewed and possibly discontinued. Do not let protocols get in the way of employee satisfaction
Make sure you appreciate the work employees do. Rewards can come in many different ways, financial, vocal, tangible and intangibles. Always recognize good work
Do not hover around your workers. Give them the space needed to freely fulfill their daily tasks. Micromanagement can cause resentment.
Do not be scared to give constructive criticism to erring workers. You must tell the truth and get them to reassess their actions towards amending the errors or setbacks.
You must be able to immerse yourself into the head of your employee. The point of this is to understand why they take certain actions and be able to make compromises that work. An understanding manager is an employee's dream.
Find out what makes your employees tick and see if you can align yourself accordingly. Their values should ideally match those of the organization.
Take notice of your employees' personal wellbeing. Checking up on workers, even outside of work hours makes them understand you consider them indispensable to the company.
X-ers and Others
Take note of the wildcards in the workspace. These are the unique personalities that you have to adopt special approaches towards, in order to fully realize their potential.
Concede defeat in certain matters in order to keep your employees happy. Asserting your authority as a superior in every situation will only create an environment that has a monotonous feel to it. Let some things go for the greater good.
Do not stop at ‘very good', keep chasing perfection. Keep on engaging and interacting with your employees on a personal level in order to reach the optimum satisfaction level.
The broad idea contained within this book is that the task manager has to ensure the talented and vital employees in their workspace are loyal and fully committed to the common goal of the company. The basic steps to be taken by the manager include, but are not restricted to, the following
- Establish open and honest two-way communication channels between management and employees.
- Establish a personal relationship with your employees.
- Hire the right fit for the job.
- Create a friendly and accommodating work environment for everyone.
- Appreciate all employees and not just the most successful ones.
- Be flexible and adaptable with your guidelines.
- Encourage employees to follow their passions and help them find it within the organization.
- Constructive criticism and not just sugarcoating reprimands.
- The underlying message is that the manager’s role in the organization is to ensure the development and retention of the company’s biggest assets - its employees.