The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that 4.3 Million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in January 2022. Organizations in the United States are reeling at the number of voluntary resignations they are getting every month. Employers are struggling to retain employees and according to The Predictive Index, 75% of executives say “The Great Resignation” has impacted their financial stability.
The Microsoft Work Trend Index found that 40% of people want to change their jobs this year. A similar U.S. survey found that 26% of workers are planning to leave their current job over the next few months.
The best way to combat this trend from a leadership perspective is in the trenches with a one-on-one approach. Leaders make the most difference when it comes to engaging and retaining people who report directly to them. Here are 7 leadership communication necessities to combat the “Great Resignation”:
- Build Strong Relationships. Leaders today have to communicate in a way that builds strong relationships with their teams. They must take the time to get to know them as a person and what motivates them. This is common sense, but not a common practice principle. If you want to be able to lead people effectively, you have to build rapport and trust with them. Once this is done you will get willing cooperation and collaboration. If this step is missed you get the opposite effect of indifference, compliance, and resistance. People are more likely to quit a job if they do not have a relationship with the person leading them.
- Be Authentic and Transparent. People respect leaders for what they do, but to build trust they need to trust who you are. Create a personal “Leadership Purpose Statement”. This should be a description of why you exist as a leader. It should inspire, direct, and guide your decisions as well as provide your purpose and motivation for everything you do as a leader. Don’t try and pretend to be someone that you are not. Be authentic to your values and beliefs. People will connect with the person you are and in turn have a greater level of commitment to staying with the job.
- Ask Questions, Listen, and Encourage Input. Technology makes it easy to send an email or text to avoid taking the time to talk with people; however, this causes a disconnect. Most people have been the victim of a misunderstanding when they sent this type of communication, and the other person took it out of context or just misinterpreted what was said. Whenever possible, take the time to pick up the phone or have face-to-face conversations with your team. Make sure you are practicing good interactive communication techniques. Ask questions, listen, and encourage your team to give input. This type of communication takes more time and effort but enhances the likelihood that people will feel more engaged and connected to you and the team.
- Become a Strong Coach and Mentor. Do you know the goals of your team? People today want to know they are growing. This is a major motivator to stay with the company. It is our responsibility as a leader to know their goals, as well as to coach and mentor each person on the team to help them move toward their goals. Take the time to identify growth opportunities, provide resources, and help develop the skills necessary for each team member to know they are growing. This will reduce the feeling of stagnation and cultivate loyalty in the team.
- Communicate Concisely and Illustrate Through Stories. Bestselling Author, Dale Carnegie said, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion…” This gives us the insight to know that we must appeal to the emotional side of the person when we truly want to motivate them. An effective way to do this is through leadership storytelling. Leadership storytelling provides insight and relevance to why people should do what we ask through strong examples. These stories give evidence to defeat the doubt that may be present in the mind of a person we are trying to persuade. When you concisely and effectively communicate through stories, we connect with people and they are more likely to be committed to the job.
- Empower and Hold People Accountable. Empowering people means that you are effectively delegating to people, providing resources, removing obstacles, and holding them accountable for expected results. You are the one who sets the person up for success; clearing the way for them to achieve the desired results. It is important to understand two key things:
- Empowering does not mean micromanaging. If you have effectively delegated the task or project, the person should have a clear picture of the expectations and the resources to accomplish it. They should see it as a step forward in their growth and development.
- Holding people accountable means that we don’t take back the authority. Too often when challenges arise, we respond with phrases like: “Let me think about it…” or “I’ll let you know when…” With phrasing like this, the authority is negated – the authority remains with you. Instead use phrases like; “How will you tackle that problem?” or “I know you will get it done?” With this phrasing, the accountability and authority has shifted. Progress is more likely.
- Recognize and Affirm. Leaders can build confidence and dedication in their team when they take the time to recognize what they are doing. This should not be an insincere “pat on the back”, just saying: “good job”. We truly need to see what trait or characteristic the individual brings to the table and back it up with solid evidence. In other words, you don’t just say “good job on the XYZ project”; you would say, “I appreciate the dedication you showed on the XYZ project. I say that because I know you stayed late to make sure we were able to hit the client deadline.” This type of recognition affirms to the person that you recognize their effort and helps them to feel valued. When people feel valued, they are less likely to look for a new job.
Retention takes the intentional effort and the commitment of leaders to communicate more effectively. When you implement the communication necessities above, you can increase the dedication and desire of your people to help the team and organization succeed. People will feel more committed to staying with the organization when they have a relationship and clear, open communication with the person who is leading them.