Recently, I was in a conversation with someone I had just met at a networking event in town. Over the 20 minutes or so that we chatted, I experienced him as a very articulate, bright, dedicated and conscientious person and employee– for his former company. He had just left his job. He was describing his “honorary lunch” with his colleagues. He found it quite moving as cards and stories were shared about how much he was appreciated, how talented he was, what a difference he made, that he will be missed, etc.
You know where this is going, don’t you? We’ve all heard this story….
“Why couldn’t they have told me how valuable my contribution was while I was still working there?” was his question to me.
We are reluctant to acknowledge others and underestimate the power in it. With relentless focus on quality improvement and performance, we fall into the trap of always focusing on what isn’t working and forget to recognize the positive contributions of our people.
Ongoing change produces self-doubt, fear and stress, all of which get in the way of performance. One of the reasons positive reinforcement is so effective is that it calms the mind and allows people to feel more grounded so they can focus on the job at hand.
In addition, with retention of our top performers being so important, we would do well to make time for meaningful acknowledgement and for regular 1-1 meetings where we can gauge individual job satisfaction by asking some of the following questions:
- What aspect of your job brings you the most satisfaction?
- What do you like least about your job?
- Have you ever considered leaving? If so, why?
- If you could change one thing about your job or this organization, what would it be?
- What kind of support or resources would make your work more satisfying?
Your role in this conversation is to be curious, be present and listen without interrupting and without defense. Listen without judgment. Your willingness to be present and gain more understanding about what your people are thinking and feeling strengthens the connection between you. Connection and acknowledgement both play a key role in retention.