Updated: Feb 8
Question for the start up world.
When you walk into a start up and the first thing they say to HR is "we want a sustainable culture yet, the hyper growth that Facebook or Google went through". Red flag alert. As the expert, you should already know that these two elements do not happen at the same time. You need to ask them, "Is it Acqusition or Retention?"
This is a conscious effort from your leadership, you simply cannot do this alone. One thing we need to get right is the people in your company defines the future, and this means EVERY SINGLE HIRE you have brought in, and retained.
You start off with acquisition. Take a company through hyper growth. Hire for headcount show, not for PURPOSE. Your leadership tells you, "hiring slow affects business". And so, you make it the only agenda in your job to Hire, Hire, Hire, because yes, you were told you can and should do so. They know that it is the talent they have who build their product. It is the talent they have who connects the product to their customers. They know that it is the talent they have who is going to give their customers a better world. So, THEY MUST HAVE IT.
This is the most exciting part of a start up, the expansion phase. Of course it is! You're selling a great dream every single day. You even end up believing in it yourself. The propaganda.
So now, you think if I can hire all these great people, I can retain them too because we're all in this together.
All these great talent, all of these great people you have just brought in to build this dream are also very smart people. If they weren't, you wouldn't have bat an eyelid at them at the first instance. Their experiences are top notch, their technical skills are second to none. But you forgot to ask, "what is YOUR DREAM?"
Every employee has a dream, GREAT employees CHASE their dreams. If you want to retain greatness, must give them the work, life satisfaction they seek.
Because they are human, just like you.
Let's put it this way, a satisfied employee is an engaged employee. We all know that high engagement brings profitability to the company, because losing people costs you ££. Don't be daft, of course it does.
Losing talent is not something to be proud of.
So what do you need to do? 2 things.
Empowering your employees:
Oh, did I hate it when Steve Jobs put A,B,C players in boxes and he used to say that Apple is successful because their A players run circles around other B,C rejects from the company. I cannot help but felt how derogatory this is to the majority of people who were never given the opportunity to graduate from Stanford. Great leadership encourages self improvement instead of firing low performers. They listen intently and believe in them. I know this because I'm empowered every day and it's not a fairytale. Man, am I lucky.
Trust and respect:
Give your employees generous boundaries. Contrary to conventional wisdom, boundaries don't restrict team members; it means you TRUST them. Let them have autonomy, and let them prove to you they can do it too. No one was born to know exactly what to do with their lives, but they learn along the way. Credible leadership believe in their employees, and let them get on with it.
Needless to say, employees who are engaged shows better performance because they hit your happiness index right at the mark you want them to be. So leaders need to remember, their success is your greater success. Treat them how you want to be treated.
Stop making excuses. Humanise your company now.