Keeping Your Team Intact

By Lain Ehmann

According to a survey of more than 50,000 individuals conducted by the consulting firm Discovery Group, half of all employees believe management doesn’t care about them. It’s no coincidence, then, that these same individuals might start looking for other jobs. Why not? No one wants to work for a company that undervalues them. So, what can you do to keep your employees smiling?

Top on the list of things to do, says Beverly Kaye, Ph.D, president and founder of Career Systems International and co-author of Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay, (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2002), is to show appreciation. “Especially with good salespeople, we forget to say: Good going,” she notes. “We forget the ones who are doing well. They need attention.”

Thanks don’t have to come with a dollar sign in front, reminds Kaye. “You can do the thank you in nonmonetary ways. There are other ways to motivate people,” she says. And while there might not be an I in the word team, remember that your sales force is made up of individuals, each with his or her own personality, likes, dislikes and hot buttons, she advises.

The most effective managers are those who recognize that no two employees operate the same way, and who tailor their approaches to each unique individual. While Mary might like to have her wins publicly acknowledged, for example, Joe might thrive on private kudos over a cup of coffee. As their manager, you need to know the difference and adapt your actions accordingly.

You don’t have to be a mind reader. The best way to know what makes your team members tick is to ask them. Kaye says she takes each of her 10 salespeople for an hour-long walk once a year to ask them what she needs to do to keep them on board for another 12 months. “For each one it’s different,” she says. You can do the same and take note of the answers on an index card or on your computer. Then, Kaye suggests, review your notes monthly and ask yourself what you’ve done to meet that person’s needs.

This may sound like a lot of work, especially in a down economy when you might think employees don’t have other employment opportunities. But consider it an investment in the future of your team, says Kaye. “Good salespeople always have choices,” she says. “The economy’s going to turn, and anyone who’s not happy is going to go.”

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