Magnetic management: Five great ways to keep good people in 2015

04 February 2015 -


Money is important – but it isn’t everything. Managers need to hone their leadership styles to hold on to staff

Ben Walker

There was once a time when holding on to great staff was relatively simple. As long as they were broadly happy in their job and you were prepared to show your approval every year or so by upping their salary, they’d usually stay. And if they met these criteria and you did these things and they still left – for lifestyle reasons or to, say, relocate – you could sleep easy knowing there was nothing else you could have done to stop them.

Guess what? The world got more complicated. The new generation of managers want more than just financial rewards. A recent survey of UK companies found that most firms offer some sort of financial incentive every year. Yet when researchers asked 1,000 employees they found salary rises pretty far down the list of things that motivated and engaged staff. Money – a decent rise – was found to be a “need to have”. It is a basic. But simply piling on the cash isn’t particularly effective at motivating teams and making them stay.

1. Unshackle your team

Freedom to assess situations and make decisions is a key demand of many employees, and is particularly acute for Generation Y workers who take even less well to micromanagement than their older peers. Newer employees want their work to have a purpose and to be able to deliver on that purpose themselves, as far as possible. Professor Sir Cary Cooper, the decorated management expert and occupational psychologist, points out this desire to deliver is good news: businesses need their staff to be multifunctional and strategic, because business realities mean each worker is required to do more in the post-crisis world. A personal development plan is a great way to outline employees’ ambitions. And management training, says Cooper, gives them the tools to get them there.

2. Be flexible

Gone are the 1950s where one partner worked and the other stayed at home to manage the house. Employees have many competing pressures on their lives – parenthood, looking after older relatives, basic household management – and time spent getting to work is just wasted hours. Just a few extra minutes to spare in mornings and evenings that would otherwise be wasted on a gruelling commute can transform stress levels. Try offering great people work-from-home programmes as an incentive – two days a week makes a massive difference to staff stress and energy levels. But here’s the rub: it makes staff more productive too. You can find plenty more management articles covering flexible working on CMI’s Insights website.

3. Professionalise your team

Management is a profession. Make sure you recognise that – and you will hold on to people, and your business will be more productive for it. Too often, management is something that comes to people by accident. Most UK managers hold no management qualifications. Buck the trend by getting your team Chartered. Research shows that training and development can increase staff loyalty – and Chartered Managers add up to £360,000 in value to your organisation.

4. Tackle workloads

Nobody wants to work long hours. Problems with excessive workload can be a powerful trigger for staff to leave. In fact, research shows that unmanageable workload is one of the top two reasons for staff stress. Audit and assess the value of the processes in your teams and redirect your energies into taking tasks from staff rather than finding them more to do. You’ll see the benefits in the shape of a happier, more loyal workforce – and will have a more efficient business.

5. Give thanks

And don’t show it to everyone! Research shows that staff respond best to individual praise rather than grand company-wide gestures of gratitude. If great staff feel valued they will stay, if they don’t they will leave. Giving feedback is a crucial part of a manager’s role – yet is fraught with pitfalls. Make sure you do it in the right way, in the right time and in the right forum.

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