Thursday, February 16, 2006

Building Retention The Old Fashioned Way

There was a commercial that ran on TV many years ago for one of the brokerage houses where the tag line went something like "We make money the old fashioned way, one investor at a time."

I was reminded of this line when reading The Herman Group's newsletter called The Herman Trend Alert. It is written by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia whose consulting firm does a good deal of "futurist" visions about the world of work.

The one that arrived this past week was, like so much of what crosses our collective desks these days, focused on retention. It was titled "Focus on the Individual." It is a good read, and in it, they talk about some of the ways in which they feel that focus on the individual will play out in the years ahead. For example, job descriptions will be replaced by "individualized expectation statements." Performance management will get translated more into "linking individual expectations to individual results." Interesting stuff to think about.

As I was reading all this, it also got me to thinking about the managers I have had myself, as well as those I have observed over the years. It took me about a nano second to say to myself, I have known managers who did indeed manage by the individual not by the numbers. I have also known managers who, it seemed to me, not only didn't know how to spell individual, and if they could recognize an individual, the only one that they could relate to was themselves.

I know that retention is the buzz word of the week. I sometimes wonder when or if retention will turn out to be the most used keyword on Google at some point. I guess that's when you know it has really become a "trend."

In any case, my point is that as I think about retention as an issue, it made be think about the tag line " investor at a time." The successful managers I have known, the ones I looked up to, the ones I wanted to emulate, were those who treated me like an individual. They listened to me, they helped point out to me those areas where I could improve. They made sure I knew when I had done something right and showed understanding when I did something wrong. I knew they cared about me as a person and a professional even though I didn't always agree with the decisions made.

There is another old saying that goes: "People don't leave companies, they leave managers." An over simplification perhaps, but it my experience, more right than wrong. Sometimes managers are a reflection of the culture, or if not a reflection per se, their behavior is a reflection of how the organization rewards behavior.

If organizations are really serious about retention, then they will start rewarding the behaviors that promote it.

1 comment:

Peter Clayton said...

Hi Dave,
Had the pleasure of interviewing Joyce for Landed Radio just before the holidays. And of course we talked a lot about retention - including some of the Execunet surveys. Thought some of your readers might be interested in hearing her comments.

Here's the direct link -

Peter Clayton
Landed Radio