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Time to Drop the Anchor Again

If you’ve opened any business publication lately you would see the headlines of the Turnover Tsunami and Great Resignation and that 40% of workers are actively considering leaving their jobs. A Monster survey this week quotes the number as high as 95%. I’ve asked every friend and professional I’ve come across the last few weeks how their hiring is going, and most responses start with an eye roll or a sigh and the same answer…no one can fill their jobs.

Jobs are open, your people are burnt out, and many are actively trying to jump ship. They’ve spent the last 16 months reflecting on what they value and care about and working in hero mode has gotten old. This is a dangerous mix for employers, and yet I find many managers not paying enough attention to the teams right in front of them.

In times of massive change in how and where we work, understaffing, and on the heels of deep personal reflection on what we value, how are you re-anchoring your team in this new port?

Re-anchoring your team begins with a few basics:

Discuss role clarity. For many, the last year was a time to pitch in to get it done. This is not a long-term strategy, and you are probably already working on borrowed time. In the survey referenced above, burnout was the number one reason cited for employees leaving their jobs. The last year has done a number on blurring the lines of one’s job description. Align with your team members on their scope and help them set healthy boundaries to respect it.

Show gratitude. We often think we show more gratitude than we do. We told them once we valued them so why repeat it? Or we can’t back up recognition with money or points or a public display so why bother. Share your gratitude and be specific. And while you’re there, ask how your team member likes to be recognized. On the company social feed? With leadership? With a cup of coffee from the cafe? A card? Maybe an early release one Friday? Or maybe an extra day to work remotely. Not everything is expensive. Set a gratitude goal for yourself if you must.

Conduct a stay interview and tell them ahead of time. A stay interview is not a drive-by to ask if there is anything you can help with today. A stay interview is a structured meeting to learn what is working (or not working) for your employee and building an action plan. Give your employee a heads up that this is what you will discuss so that they can prepare. This will result in a more fruitful, actionable meeting. Your employee likely needs time to assess how they are feeling and diagnose what is at the root of that – for good or bad.

Find purpose. Meaningful work has taken on new meaning for many during this great period of reflection. Talk to your people about how they view purpose and values in their work. And if they don’t, help them on their journey to discover it.

Think big. You’ve anchored here today, but where are you dropping anchor next? And how do you get there together? Solving just for today puts you in constant fire-fighting mode. Share your vision and rally the team around where you are heading and what their unique role is to get there with you.

Amid turbulent waters and employees jumping ship, it’s important to drop an anchor and ensure your remaining employees have clarity, feel appreciated, and know where you’re collectively going. This won’t be the last anchor drop, but while you are at this stop, fully engage with and care for those in the boat.


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