Why Do They Stay?

Manufacturing in early 2022 faces a number of challenges, varying by location and industry. But the one most of you share is the inability to attract and retain high potential employees.

Recruiting is not a perfect process, and don’t assume that yours is even well-designed. Hiring is an equally imperfect process. Why do I say that? Look at the hiring mistakes you’ve made. Short-lived honeymoons are the obvious ones, but sometimes it takes a few years to realize that the person you once believed a great match is not. Maybe he changed; maybe you did.

Many companies utilize exit interviews in an attempt to understand why good people leave. Those rarely provide accurate information, and even more rarely generally applicable information. We’ve all heard that people don’t leave a job; they leave a boss. That is often the case, but not always.

Let’s take a more proactive approach and find out why people stay with your organization. No blind surveys, no focus groups, no assumptions. Have 1:1 conversations with each person, because each is an individual with his own individual priorities and interests, and ask “why do you continue to work for us?”

But that’s only half of the question. The other part is what aspects of the role or the organization prevent them from having a great day every single day? There is no reason to assume that everyone will have a bad day at work, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that “work” should be a dirty word.

Of course things won’t always go right, but that is not sufficient for a bad day. Bad days are caused by much more than that. Were the things that went wrong preventable? Were the things that went wrong more interpersonal than functional? So for each, what are the primary factors keeping them from having a great day every day?

You can work with the organization and the person to adjust roles and responsibilities, to eliminate unpleasant parts of the role, to steadily increase the good-day/bad-day ratio until it reaches 1:0.

Your sales team will tell you it is much easier to keep a current customer than to find a new one. The same is true with good employees. After they leave is a bad time to ask them what it would take to make them stay.

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