Leading a company, or any organization, through times of uncertainty and adversity is a challenging task, to say the least. One of the main challenges in such times is retaining your key people.
Typically, good people are in always in demand. It’s hard enough to retain them in good times. It becomes much harder once they sense signs of trouble, uncertainty, and instability. For example, in times of downsizing, acquisition, strategic redirection, or a major re-org.
In my career, I’ve experienced all of the above situations, both as a regular employee and as a senior leader. As a result, I’ve gained some valuable lessons. I also developed some useful tactics for crossing these troubled waters while retaining your key people. And more importantly, maintaining good performance and a positive attitude within your team.
Here are five key lessons.
First, identify your key people that you are prepared to fight for in order to retain them. This seems obvious and should be for organizations who regularly work on succession planning and employee development.
Have regular 1-on-1 sessions with your people. Let them know that they are valued, wanted, and are part of your plans moving forward. Never assume they know that without specifically being told so. Everyone needs and wants to feel wanted and valued. More importantly, listen to them; understand their concerns, development goals, and personal priorities. Build an individual development plan for each person on your team.
Communicate broadly, early and often. Have regular, periodic communication with your entire team or company. Keep them informed of your plans, goals, and priorities. Be clear and sincere about the challenges that lie ahead, and at the same time present the opportunities that come with it.
Stockdale’s Paradox. Be clear and realistic about the situation your company is in, and the challenges ahead of it. And yet display your confidence and faith in its ability to come out of this situation better than before. Develop an action plan to meet your goals; set correct expectations.
Lead by example. Maintain a positive and proactive approach. To borrow from Gandhi: You must be the change you want to see in your company.
Following the above suggestions will not give you 100% guarantee of retaining your key people. However, they will surely increase your chances of doing so, and will definitely make you a better leader.