In the final article of our ten-part series, we recap on the previous nine ways in which to retain our top performers, whilst ensuring we are creating the best example for our future leaders, maintaining a critical level of trust and respect, standing by our commitments and doing what we say we are going to do.
The importance of trust cannot be underestimated when it comes to mentoring and supporting our homegrown talent, however it is equally important to create an environment in which interpersonal trust between employees is also encouraged to thrive. This has been shown to not only decreases staff turnover, but also help to build employee engagement and reduce the need for monitoring, duplication and bureaucracy (Poorkavoos – Eight Behaviours That Build Trust, 2016).
Poorkavoos states there are eight specific behaviours that facilitate trust in the workplace. We will take a look at each, however the fourth behaviour, being personal, relates to part one of our series. We looked at Rewards, and how an holistic approach to motivation and reward strategies is imperative to retainment, not least due to the rising millennial workforce demanding more flexibility, less hierarchy, and a more agile working life. Particularly in public sector industries such as social housing and healthcare, these retainment tools are crucial where a lack of availability for monetary rewards may be an issue, and are an arguably more attractive incentive to millennials, who typically now place more importance on a work-life balance than their predecessors. The article also touched upon the need for a less hierarchical leadership style, and how value is placed on not only what makes individual employees happy, but just as importantly discovering what makes them unhappy (Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors, Mindtools), and taking concrete steps to address these issues head on.
Embracing New Ideas (part two of the series) discusses how creating a ‘change embracing environment’ can help individuals to flourish and allow growth of new ideas to spread positive change throughout the organisation as well as the wider sector. By listening well (Poorkavoos’ seventh behaviour) to employee’s ideas, supporting them to autonomously implement these ideas whilst also offering reassurance and guidance, you are creating a hotbed of talent, growth, confidence, trust and support for our future leaders.
Part three of the series examines the link between continual Training and Development opportunities throughout the careers of our top performers (with clear progression pathways) and retainment levels. We can link this to Poorkavoos’ sixth behaviour, appreciating others, and the importance of creating a challenging, yet interesting environment for top performers, whilst developing opportunities to progress within it. If we appreciate our employees and create genuinely tailored career pathways within our organisations correlating to their passions and strengths, they will be far less likely to take those skills somewhere else. The private sector can be an enticing prospect, particularly where there are bigger financial incentives, however, as mentioned, our millennials are more likely to stay where they are happy, valued and have opportunities to thrive within their current work space.
Which leads us on to Praise. In part four we became aware of the need for praise, particularly among our high performers, who demonstrated that they are three times more likely to leave their organisation within a year if they did not feel appreciated (behaviour six, above) or given enough praise for the work they do. We discovered that in a sector starved of funding, this particular method of communication is an invaluable, free (or at least cost effective if using technology) tool that statistically makes a vast difference to staff retainment, and that if consistently applied (for instance to create praise and reward programmes) we can also monitor, measure and control how effective regular, genuine praise is at maintaining staff happiness levels.
Part five, Encouraging Risk Taking, and the shift from risk avoidance, into the technologically supported new era of measured, calculated and monitored risk, takes the idea of embracing new ideas further, and allows our future leaders to take charge of their initiatives with support, guidance and an honest examination of our own risk taking experiences. This, it could be argued, is succession planning at its very core, and allows us to show vulnerability (behaviour eight) by using our own past successes and failures to teach our successors to have strength and trust in their own abilities.
Part six asks us become aware of Managing Expectations and the correlation between clarity of goals, driven performance and results. Our research suggests that setting clear expectations may be the most fundamental element of effective employee engagement, and to perform at the highest level, employees must first understand exactly what is anticipated of them. By being consistent (behaviour five) and realistic in our expectations and continually supporting individuals to reach mutually agreed outcomes we are demonstrating effective leadership and success is far more likely.
Part seven takes us into territory of Personal Brand Awareness, and the often uncomfortable and counter-intuitive action of pushing self-promotion in the public sector. Yet we discovered the crucial importance and effectiveness of a well-developed individual brand and consistently observed ethos in a climate that is too often spotlighting the negative issues and challenges currently facing the sector.
Making A Champion (part eight of the series) emphasises how focusing on an individual’s key strengths, and building upon unique qualities and interests, not only encourages a much more motivated and energised employee, but also creates an ideal micro climate for developing and retaining leaders and champions within the organisation. We learned that by applying a more modern ‘strength-based’ approach (as opposed to the older ‘fear-based’ developing strength from weakness models) we create a definitively more effective way of achieving outcomes and boosting company performance. Supporting employees to apply their natural strengths and abilities to their roles (instead of focusing on their weaknesses) builds confidence, happiness in the job, a positive attitude and creates star performers.
The penultimate part of the series asks us to Lead From The Front, and become aware that our own behaviour, management style and leadership methods are being continuously scrutinised and examined by our future successors. Therefore, it is vital to maintain a high level of consistency, integrity and transparency (Poorkavoos’ first behaviour). By demonstrating modern leadership skills, being approachable and being visible to all levels of the business structure we can encourage successive positive leadership role models.
Finally, in part ten, Do What You Say You Are Going To Do, we apply all of the above leadership methods, whilst remaining consistent in our approach, creating a supportive and enabling environment for our future leaders to thrive, and being committed (behaviour two) to seeing these ideas, actions and measurements through to a successful outcome.
The time for change in Leadership style within the public sector is crucially right now. In an environment that is arguably experiencing its biggest challenges in recent history it is vital that all areas of our housing and healthcare services work together to overcome the difficulties we now face to create the space, opportunities and modern environments needed for our future leaders to not only thrive, but set the standard for future innovation and best practice.
Alma Sheren is Head of Marketing and Communications for Greenacre Recruitment, and collaborates with the team and wider network on Leadership, Human Resources, Change Management issues and the challenges and transitions currently facing the UK housing sector.