All of our efforts at engagement and retention fall short if we don’t customize growth at an individual level. Business is not about a person working for a company; it’s about a company working for a person.
Do you like me? I mean, seriously, I’m a fun guy. I’m positive. I like a good joke. I get passionate, maybe a bit much at times, but from my perspective, for a good reason, and that reason usually has to do with fighting for you. This is one of those times.
I was reading a book this week on leadership. The author quoted a company founder who said, “You know in your heart you want people to love where they work. But if you don’t create an environment where you build trust, they won’t.”
It’s a decent quote. Just one problem. I worked there. It was one of the worst work experiences of my life, mostly because of the trust they violated.
Sadly, their onboarding process was the best I ever experienced. I couldn’t wait to get to work when I first joined them. What happened? What was the disconnect? Why didn’t I last with them for even a year?
Every day you read about the lack of engagement or the rise of quiet quitting or the great reshuffle. You hear talk about strategies for retention and culture and connection.
And most of it misses the point.
The solutions you hear stop short of the individual. We create programs for employees to join. We host events for them to participate in. We are involved in social-movements they can be proud of or volunteer for. We deliver training on pertinent skills. It’s we or us, which has its place, but the focus is rarely on the individual at the individual level.
The direction is one-way. The company is saying “Do what we have put together for you.” Rarely does it say to an individual, “Let’s work together on what we can do for you specifically.”
We seek to be a company that they are proud of, a place they want to belong. But we are seeking their engagement without engaging them first. (What if they want to be a person the company is proud of)?
Remember President JFK’s great line: “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”
We operate as if he said company instead of country, and our employees hear the message loud and clear.
I’m old enough to have seen it for years. I’ve seen it in businesses, public entities, non-profits and churches. They all are guilty of the same shame: They talk about putting people first, but they are trying to get people to cooperate with the organization’s agenda while feeling good about the time, energy, ability and money the people invest.
Eventually, the bottom drops out. Or someone coins the phrase “quiet quitting.” Please, it may be a new phrase but it’s far from a new reality.
What if companies proclaimed a different message: Ask what your company can do for you.
And what if I could show you a way to silence quiet quitting and engage employees that has been statistically shown to:
You must champion people and customize development by one primary strategy: Give every employee an advocate.
An advocate is a specific person invested in the personal, relational and vocational development of another. They are a coach, mentor and champion. They come alongside a person and work with that person at the depth and area of direction as determined by that person.
You will love an advocate: They connect with you, encourage you, guide you and resource you. You want one. Your employees want one.
And it won’t be you. The most effective way to advocate for members on your team is to give them an advocate devoted to their development - one who works in concert with you not in competition; one who brings fulfillment to what you and your company is seeking to do for the best of your employees.
Think about it. Ideally, people don’t quit on themselves. Give them a leader/company who is into them - even through the agency of an advocate - and they won’t quit on the one place who sees the best in them and seeks the best for them.
Why would you leave a company that is actively investing in your best interest (and the best interest of your family and relationships) in order to go somewhere that requires putting up with the traditional crap everyone else is trying to solve for?
I’ve been blowing this trumpet for a couple of years. Some are beginning to hear it and to do it. They are putting value to the conviction that any help that is less than individual, 1:1 customized help is help that falls short.
What you are doing to promote engagement and retention isn’t bad: Increased benefits are great. Flexibility, super. Training that sharpens skills, absolutely perfect. But your competitors offer that, and maybe better.
What your competitors don’t offer is individual advocacy, and specifically, an advocate devoted to them. Bond there, and people will have to fight themselves and their family to leave for a “better offer.” Offers come and go; investment in your growth is a rare commodity.
Disengaged employees will cost you around a third of their salary. Considering two-thirds of your employees are likely disengaged, you can afford to bring in advocates.
A person who resigns costs you approximately 15K. How many people have quit? An advocate will reduce that number.
Job vacancies now cost an average of 22k for a 44-day period of replacement.
The number one reason people leave, and the number one reason people stay is because a company invests in their development. It’s been that way for 11 years running.
And yet. We keep trying the same, worn answers that fall short of pushing everything down to the level of an individual. Invest in a person, you invest in a team. Invest in a team, you invest in the company. But you know that isn’t always the case in reverse.
I’ve been an advocate for people who suffered through times that merited quitting, but because of our relationship - because the company arranged for our relationship - they prospered and grew in the midst of the mess.
I wish I had an advocate when I joined the group I mentioned above. Instead, I had antagonists.
We’ve been telling people for too long to get with the program; it’s time for companies to get with the person.
You can tell that I believe in this. I want you to believe in it. For such a small financial investment (hire advocates) compared to the revenue loss without, you can raise engagement, stop reshuffling, and quiet the quitting.
It takes an advocate. Let me help you figure it out.
The individuals you lead will thank you.