Cut the Bullshit Part Two: Get Engagement in One Question

I admit I was a bit afraid to hit “send” on last week’s article–not only because I wrote “bullshit” fifteen times, but because it deeply challenged leaders and managers to get real.

But it got the best feedback this year, so I wrote a part two. Who knows, maybe it’s a series? Do you want it to be? Let me know. There is, after all, no shortage of bullshit.

More importantly, what’s in your way is bullshit. I don’t mean it isn’t real. It’s just not what you think. I’ll explain.

Employee retention is a common problem. You want your people engaged so they stick around, right? Hiring and re-training are incredibly expensive.

So why should your people be engaged?

Because you pay them?

Bullshit. Money gets most people to do the minimum to get by. Money rarely motivates to excellence, and it doesn’t create employee retention. Look around.

Because they should care about the success of the company?

Bullshit. Without equity stake, this is meaningless. They could be gone tomorrow and everyone knows it.

Because they want to be a team player and sacrifice themselves for the greater good, whatever that is?

Bullshit. People only give to the whole if the whole benefits them in turn. You can’t get around self-interest.

Most managers have no idea how to engage and promote employee retention. But this is where your bullshit comes in. Because the problem is not that you don’t know. When I tell you, the odds are you won’t do anything with it. I’ve seen it again and again even with clients who pay me to give them this answer. Most people won’t do it.

Want to prove me wrong?

You can create engagement and employee retention with just one very personal question that most managers are too afraid to ask.

Are you ready?

“What don’t you like about yourself, and how can I help you use your job to change it?”

If you don’t know the answer to this question for each and every person in your organization, the engagement you have is bullshit. Your employees are bullshitting you, and you’re bullshitting yourself.

You think they’re trading half of their waking hours for money, or the greater good, or out of loyalty, and that fulfills them?

Yeah, right.

It might, until one of your competitors makes a better offer, or until they decide to start their own shop.

You haven’t gotten this far without realizing that business is all about relationships. Relationships are personal. Management is personal. Let it be. Go there.

Employee Retention: There Is No System, But There Is a Method

What will happen when you ask this question?

You have no idea. That’s why most people won’t ask. You want something like the X Steps to Blah Blah Blah. You want a system. I get it, but you’re not baking a cake here, you’re developing a mentoring relationship and it’s more a right-brain activity than a left.

You have to not-know your way through mentoring. So that voice in your head that says, “I can’t do that, I don’t know what would come next.”

That’s the bullshit. Do it anyway. You’ll figure it out. That’s how mentoring works: you never know what’s going to happen next, or whether you’ll handle it well, that’s what makes any relationship alive.

The question above opens the door to a co-exploration of how the employee’s personal self-interest and the needs of the company intersect to create a win-win. That’s what creates engagement and employee retention. Not recognition, not picnics, not free beer at work, not foosball tables. Those things help, but they’re not at the core because they’re not personal enough.

So while no one can save you from the discomfort and challenge of it, there is a community of people who can support and coach you in myriad ways. That’s what Clear and Open is all about: a group of people committed to doing the hard things to get what they want. It’s easier when you’ve got others going through it with you, and you get to practice calling bullshit on your peers before trying it with your people. Learn more about becoming a member here.

Scores:

Bullshit (including this one): 15

You when you ask the question: 16