I recently read and reviewed Love ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People To Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. The book was a comprehensive digest of progressive management of people.
A review of the book is here: http://www.alighaemi.com/wp/?p=860.
I had the occasion to speak to Beverly Kaye about the contents of the book and bring you her answers and thoughts on topics covered by the book.
Bev, if you do not mind let me play the devil’s advocate for my first question. Is the concept of the book anachronistic given the tough times and the high unemployment rate?
Absolutely not! The issue of engagement and retention is just as important in tough times as it is in good times. The truth is that talented employees have choices, they can find other opportunities. Organizations or managers who feel they can relax because people aren’t going anywhere… or there’s plenty of talent out there… they will find themselves in hot water – if not already – soon.
When speaking with employees, or people in general, they seem to give more emphasis and credence to pay and salary than much of the research, including yours, implies. Am I speaking to a non-representative sample?
Many employees will use “better opportunity” or “higher salary” as reasons they leave, at least that’s what they write on their exit interviews. But, if you take the time to follow them to their next job you will find that their reasons are often much more specific and many of those reasons have to do with their own manager. Not feeling valued, appreciated, challenged, even noticed comes out higher on the list every time. Not saying that pay is not a reason, or not important. It is, but if it is competitive and an individual is being challenged and talents are used appropriately then it will not be a factor in whether one stays or leaves.
The biggest criticism one could accord the book would be that much of its advice is beyond the power or reach of front-line managers. Love ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em insists managers are the most influential factor in whether employees stay. Could you reconcile these two notions?
I still believe that much of the power rests with the manager and that it is the relationship with the manager that is one of the most important factors in engagement and retention. When we wrote Love ‘Em… we worked hard to make sure that most of the ideas were low cost or no cost, so I’d challenge you to find that the tilt is in the other direction. Again, it takes a creative manager, willing to think outside the box, to take any idea we mention and tweak it so that it applies to his direct reports as individuals. This means you need to know them first!
In your opinion, are modern managers getting better at leading their employees or are old-school habits persisting? Do you have any view or research in this regard?
I think the main old-school habit that seems to persist has more to do with the development discussion than the engagement conversation with a manager. Managers have an erroneous belief that all of their people have a desire to move up in the organization and if those upward spots are not available they avoid that particular conversation instead of staying open and getting to know the career aspirations of their employees. Career development and opportunities to learn and grow continue to be one of the major drivers for engagement and retention.
On the flip side, what would you reckon is the employees’ responsibility in regards to making their jobs and days pleasurable and successful?
When managers around the globe thanked us for the ideas in Love ‘Em – not rocket science, but ideas that are easy to forget – and asked us my co-author and I wrote a companion book to Love ‘Em, what about employees (they asked)? Don’t they have a role in this? Shouldn’t they be responsible for their own job satisfaction? The answer is ‘of course they do.’ We took the same 26 strategies and re-wrote the book from the employee’s perspective! It’s titled Love It Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways To Get What You Want At Work. It makes a strong point that an employee cannot and should not wait for their manager to start the conversation. They need to initiate it as well.
Beverly Kaye is currently working on a new book, which is due in 2012. The new book is tentatively entitled Help Them Grow Or Watch Them Go and will be a book for managers to deal with career development issues. For more information visit the website of Career Systems International at http://www.careersystemsintl.com/.
Thanks to Michelle Zionkowski and especially to Lorianne Speaks for coordinating and facilitating this conversation with Beverly Kaye.