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Should I stay or should I go?

Nov 01, 2017

Should I stay or should I go…

My article is about employee retention and I thought this song title was very apt.  Unless you are going through a period of downsizing, most decisions about staying or going are up to your employees. 

Some turnover is healthy, people can outgrow roles and move to opportunities you are unable to offer or they retire. Others leave because your role doesn’t match the attractive opportunity they were “sold” at interview; they have become unhappy or they don’t feel comfortable in your organisation.

Ex-employees have an opinion about you as an employer and will share this with family and friends – some may even complete an on-line “rate my school” website and share their views with a much wider audience.  Great if they loved working for you and recommend you to others, potentially devastating if they say they had an appalling experience.

So what can you do to foster employee engagement so your employees feel positive about working for you?  The good news is it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.  There are some simple questions to ask yourself:

1. Do I know what motivates each of my employees?  You need to know what is really important to individuals in order to evaluate how you can contribute to their sense of well-being.  An article in the McKinsey Quarterly on the Irrational Side of Change Management divides motivation into 5 possible options:

      • Impact on society
      • Impact on customer
      • Impact on stakeholders
      • Impact on the working team
      • Impact on me

2. As a school leader you need to have a clear sense of direction and need to paint a picture of this to your staff.  To strike a cord with everyone it needs to hit the buttons for each of the 5 motivators.  If not the Pareto Principle 80:20 rule will apply.

3. How meaningful is your communication – is it top down with key information shared through the school hierarchy?  Speak to your whole workforce if you can, or engage with groups and ask for feedback.  This ensures your message is heard by all and not diluted by many versions of it.

4. Give your employees a voice.  If you need to change things ask those doing the job how it could be done – they know their job better than you.

5. Consider the skills you need in managers of staff, they need to want to share with staff and foster trust and openness, yet be strong and have meaningful conversations – staff need to feel involved in decision making, it makes people feel valued and part of your set up.

If you work towards adopting these 5 principles, you will be building a sense of pride and purpose in your organisation.  Employees will be clear about your values and will see positive examples of these changes from the top.

It won’t be to everyone’s liking but showing you are mindful of trying to meet every employees needs will go a long way to differentiating you from other employers and build a happy and committed workforce.

We are living in turbulent times which impact everyone, as a school leader you can’t control what happens outside of your institution… you can determine how things will be where you can provide a sense of purpose.  A positive work force will serve your organisation well, invest in these steps and reap the dividend of their commitment to you.

When your staff say to others “I enjoy my job and feel valued and respected” you know you are doing the right thing.


Janet Bell - Rare.pngJanet Bell


Category: Minerva blogs

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