Do They Love Ya? 4 Talent Retention Mistakes to Avoid

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If you’re old enough (ahem!) to remember the TV series Dallas, you know that J.R. Ewing was the series’ villain.  Even if you’re not, you know that every reality TV show today has a character we love to hate. So, apparently, do companies. Mulling over Market Watch’s list “The 10 Companies We Love to Hate”, I found myself musing over what these diverse firms all-too-closely share. Besides the obvious disasters (remember Enron?), a few things clearly stood out from the rest.

Here are 4  talent retention mistakes to avoid if you want your clients, customers and team to love working for your company:

Rude employees:  I know, there’s a lot of talk these days about the importance of providing great customer service.  And many of us do.  Interestingly, the same concept applies to today’s talent retention.  But this is a topic that always deserves and demands repetition, and here’s a telling example:  Arriving for a meeting last week, I approached the company’s front desk and was greeted with…nothing. After a moment or two, the receptionist lifted her head and looked at me.  That was it: no smile, no greeting, and in fact, no words.  When I offered my name and the purpose of my visit, she turned away to contact my host and… you guessed it…her demeanor was exactly the same. Pretty welcoming, huh? Face it: truly exceptional customer service can make your company swim with the best of them. Or not.

Falling short on your promises:   People are like elephants: when we perceive we aren’t treated right, we remember it. We are gracious though; most of the time we’re willing to forgive if the issues are corrected-quickly. Of course, the crucial thing here is to be able to plan strategically: if you know in advance you won’t make a deadline, complete a space or finish the budget, now’s the time to be proactive.  Think that’s not a problem in our business? You may want to reconsider the next time a tenant declines to renew its lease.

Cutting to the bone:  It’s true, many of us had to reduce our ranks during tough economic times just to stay afloat.  That’s understandable. What’s surprising is when we fail to realize that it’s almost impossible to sustain that effort over the long term. No matter what business you’re in, it pays to appreciate that you can absolutely pile more challenges (or opportunities) on your team, and sometimes that works. When doesn’t it? The next time a valued employee leaves to work for a competitor, it may be a good time to reassess.

Creating a culture of distrust:  Believe it or not, this is one area that can sink your ship faster than the Titanic. Do you want your customers and employees to rate their experiences with your company as terrible, or unfortunate? Of course not, but it happens-just take a look at MarketWatch’s list. This is one area where you’ll have to earn trust.

Want to retain talent in your organization? Check out our workshop, “Building Relationships: Earning Trust & Respect”, here.

© 2014 Shannon Alter

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