Lead Like All Your Employees Are Volunteers
The other day I read an article about a well-known company anticipating a big competitive problem: huge attrition when its first employees are vested for their stock options, four years after their hire date. The CEO expects to hemorrhage talent, many of which he expects to be snapped up by his competitors. His question, asked mostly of himself, is, “Why should we train our competition’s talent force?”
Really? That got me to thinking.
CEO, I’m writing to you. How often have you thought the same thing? Maybe I should rephrase that: How often in a week do you think the same thing?
Here’s what I think. I think that if you have four years with someone of talent and they aren’t dying to stay onboard after all that time, that you deserve to lose them! My God, what were you doing all that time?
Most companies are not startups, and even among those that are, most will not have IPOs that make the founding talent rich. Most companies just have employees, which it pays. So this vesting period is often not an issue. Instead, talent is poached by recruiters or social networks or, heck, talent takes the initiative to find something better. This happens all year long, every year.
Guess what folks? As the economy picks up, this process will speed up.
Money will always be a factor for some people, and no matter what you try, some of your most talented performers will leave for a (financially) better offer. You can probably give someone a 20% bump in pay to keep them; you most likely cannot offer them IPO riches a second time.
But for most of us, money only starts the conversation. It gets our attention, yes. Offer me too little, I’ll take that as a slap in the face, or at best that you aren’t serious. You won’t get that first interview.
But there are so many other, much more important reasons to want to work for a company, and even more to stay for one that we’ve grown to love!
CEOs, team leaders, and everyone in between: if your people don’t love your company after four years of employment (or four months, or four quarters…), that’s all on you.
Do you have the pick of the employment litter? Are your best people dying to stay on board? If not, it isn’t that they’re ungrateful, and it isn’t that your competitors are luring them away. It’s that you suck as a leader.
Act as if every single employee is a volunteer. Because you know what? In a fundamental way, they are.
Image courtesy of SJ White