How to Retain Good Employees, Part 1

Norb Slowikowski

August 2005

For any successful business, retention of good employees is a must. Good employees consistently work toward peak performance and can be counted on when obstacles arise.

The first guideline that needs to be established in order to retain good employees is that of a positive work climate. People who like coming to work tend to do their best work every day. Establishing a positive work climate also makes people much more likely to become self-motivated and sustain their good work habits. With this in mind, employers need to get serious about following guidelines to retain good employees. In this article we will focus on six essential areas that will help in accomplishing this goal, covering the first set of essential areas this month and then continuing with the others in upcoming issues.

Area #1: Providing ongoing training in technical, management and leadership skills. This type of training must become a way of life in your organization. Your supervisors can provide technical training on the job by following these basic steps:

- Set the atmosphere for training.
- Train the employees thoroughly in their jobs.
- Explain and demonstrate the key technical skills.
- Let the employee do the job.
- Follow up to determine if the employee is doing the job properly.

This technical training should be ongoing and continually reinforced. It should never stop.

You also have to expose your foremen and superintendents to functional and adaptive skills training. They need to be trained in the following skills areas:

- Planning, leading, organizing and controlling.
- How to deal effectively with people.
- Communication.
- Motivating self and others.
- Establishing a motivational climate.
- Building teamwork.
- Appraising performance.
- Administering corrective discipline.

If supervisors don’t receive training in these areas, they may become disenchanted with the organization and then eventually leave (if you don’t get rid of them first).

Supervisors must become proficient in the following leadership skills so that they can be effective in dealing with their people while achieving satisfaction from the work they do.

- They must first have a thorough knowledge and mastery of all the job skills and tools and equipment used by their crews.
- They must lead by example—by practicing good work habits they will gain respect and be more likely to instill these admirable qualities in their crews.
- They must be able to organize, anticipate and solve problems, make decisions, adjust to change, conduct pre-job planning sessions and give comprehensible instructions to their crews before the job starts.
- They must show care and concern for their employees by helping workers improve when they make mistakes, rather than using criticism when mistakes are made.
- They need to make sure their crews have all the resources they need, encourage feedback, make suggestions and give support.

Area #2: Setting Goals. Goal setting, which is setting specific, measurable targets to accomplish in a specified time frame, is extremely important because it is a tool for

- Monitoring worker performance, since workers need to know how they’re performing.
- Giving workers direction so that they know what’s expected of them and, as a result, have a clear focus on what has to be done.
- Involving workers in the overall work plan by asking them for their input prior to setting goals that affect their team.

By setting goals, employees feel like they’re key members of the team. When employees feel that way, there’s little chance that they will leave.

About the Author
Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.