Retention and the Final Four

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, absolutely hate sports, or you’ve been away from Twitter for a couple of weeks, you would have at least heard the phrase, “Final Four” or “NCAA brackets.” The field of 64 (or 68 if you believe in the “First Four”) has whittled down to the Final Four of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. March Madness is coming to a close and a lot of “madness” has taken place in the form of upsets and Cinderella Stories. Each of the Final Four teams are talented and successful in each of their respective seasons, but Villanova stands out to me. Their 4-year success is due to retaining their top talent.

I was listening to sports talk radio and a guest was asked about the fact that Villanova has won the most games (134) in the last 4-year stretch than any other Men’s basketball team in history. Besides all of the clichés like “trusting the process” and “guts” and “heart,” the one thing this person said that stuck out to me was they, “got old and stayed old.” I had to think about that for a second, considering we are talking about 18-21 year-old men, but he meant that Villanova has retained their talent.

Looking at their roster, 6 of the 15 players are “redshirted.” And these aren’t just redshirt freshmen. 3 are redshirt juniors and 2 are redshirt sophomores. In college basketball terms, this team is “old”. Or, in other words, they are experienced and have played together for more than just one season, unlike the Kentucky’s of the world. Their coach, Jay Wright, has been there since 2001. He has been able to establish a culture of trust, winning, and commitment.

In this era of “one and done” in the corporate world, companies are struggling with retaining their talent. Bonuses have just been paid and employees are looking for that next opportunity. They may have become disengaged in the work they are doing or feeling they don’t have the same career opportunities they once had. In a tight job market paying premium for skills can make retention a big issue in any organization.

So what is a company to do? Skip all of the investments in the work space. Sure kegs of beer and free LeCroix are cool, but aren’t those the standard now? Start by paying your employees fairly. Understand what your industry and competitors pay, but most importantly, understand your own business and what it takes to keep your lights on. Some other company is always going to be able to pay more money or offer more beer. Some employees will want more money and more beer. You can’t keep everyone.

Find out the real reasons your employees are questioning their pay. Chances are trust is very low in the organization. Employees don’t feel comfortable coming forward with questions or concerns about their work or their environment. For some reason, whether based on prior experience or rumors they’ve heard in the organization, there is a lack of trust that keeps employees from opening up and discussing the real issues.

Leaders, drop your egos. Sit back and really listen to the concerns and the comments. 89.3% of the issues can be fixed without having to throw money at it.

Finally, invest in all of your employees. Your leaders are employees, too. Make sure they have the tools and resources to be available for their employees. People management is not just another task to pile onto someone’s workload. Allow them the time and space to spend time with their employees. Provide time for employees to have conversations with leadership.

Create an environment where they can show up as their best selves, offer opinions and solutions, and create a path for their own growth and development.

Retention becomes a hot topic this time of year. But your employees are thinking about leaving way before that bonus is paid out. Pay attention to your people and create and environment to have open and honest dialogue. Build a foundation of trust and make sure your people have what they need to succeed. Create that type of culture and you would be surprised at how much longer you retain your talent.

 

 

 

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