• Friday, July 12, 2024
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Confronting the brutal facts: Employee engagement & retention focus


The story is told about Isaac Newton, the English physicist and mathematician, who is considered by many to be one of the greatest and most influential scientists who ever lived. He was said to be sitting under an apple tree one day, and an apple fell from the tree. Upon observing this, he began to think. He asked himself some critical and brutal questions: “Why should a falling apple always descend in a perpendicular direction?”, “Why should it not fall sideways, or go upwards?

These questions prompted Isaac to discover one of the greatest laws ever known to man – the law of gravity.

Rather than get excited that an apple had fallen for him to eat, he asked important questions which led to his great discovery. Obviously, he was not the first person to watch an apple fall from an apple tree. Since the earth began, millions and millions of individuals would have seen that happen. You might have. But the difference between Newton and others was that he asked the right question.

The kind of question Isaac Newton asked himself was “brutal” because it demanded the highest level of sincerity in providing a response. While asking brutal questions, the answer might involve exposing mistakes you might have made in the past. Asking these kinds of questions enable one take a second look at issues more critically.

What assumptions are your organisations running with in the area of employee engagement and retention? As the popular saying goes, “Errant assumptions lie at the root of every failure.”

Don’t assume, Ask questions.

Here are 10 brutal questions about employee engagement and retention that leaders must ask in 2015:

1. Are our employees satisfied with working in our organisation/team?

2. Do our line leaders motivate?

3. How often do employees/team members call in sick?

4. Do I operate a fair and just system that makes employees/team members trust me?

5. Do I clarify information when communicating or giving feedback?

6. Does everyone in my organisation have clear, specific and measurable performance objectives?

7. Do we recognise appreciate and differentiate high performers in my organisation or team?

8. Do we plan employee engagement and retention in my organisation?

9. Do we measure the cost of employee turnover (the cost of an employee leaving your organisation against the cost of hiring a replacement) in my organisation?

10. Are career conversations happening often which is a key retention tool?

In the words of Jim Collins in his bestselling book Good to Great: “You must be willing to ask the brutal questions about your business if you are going to solve problems and achieve goals”. After all, disciplined questioning usually ignites transformation.