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Developing a Winning Corporate Culture, Part III

Developing a Winning Corporate Culture, Part III

How to manage your managers and cultivate younger workers in a way that keeps them engaged, happy, and productive.


In the first part of this 3-part series, we discussed how to manage your managers and cultivate younger workers in a way that keeps them engaged, happy, and productive.

In the second installment of this 3-part article series, we looked at how distributors can hire and cultivate risk takers who can bring their businesses to the next level.


The U.S. is at full employment, which means distributors not only have to sharpen their new employee recruiting skills in order to fill open positions, but they also have to keep their current workers happy (or risk watching them walk out the door). In many cases, existing managers can make or break an employee retention strategy in a world where 50% of employees leave their managers—not their jobs.

That’s right folks, a Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two workers left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career. And having a bad manager is often a one-two punch: Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and negatively affecting their overall wellbeing.

But Gallup says it’s not enough to simply label a manager as “bad” or “good.” “Organizations need to understand what managers are doing in the workplace to create or destroy engagement,” the research firm notes. Unfortunately, you don’t always know what’s going on until the best employees have moved along to other jobs. So how do you “manage your managers” in a way that not only keeps them happy, but also ensures that good employees stick around for a long time?

Those seem to be the million-dollar questions right now. With the unemployment rate at a low 3.8 percent (down from 3.9 percent in May, at the lowest point since early-2000), companies are literally fighting tooth-and-nail to attract new talent—sometimes neglecting the employees who are already fiercely loyal and onboard.

Harnessing the Job-Hoppers

If you don’t think job-hopping is costing your distributorship money, think again. A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21% have changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same. Gallup estimates that millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

Dov Baron, author of Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent, speaker, and president of consulting firm Full Monty Leadership in British Columbia, says it starts by paying some attention to the older, veteran employees who helped get your company to where it is today. With many of these workers now in leadership and management roles, they play a key role in employee retention (for proof of this, think about that 50 percent statistic from Gallup).

“Oftentimes the baby boomers and even Gen Xers are being left behind as companies put the focus on hiring and training millennial and post-millennial workers,” says Baron. This is a big mistake because not only will a veteran’s departure leave a gap in a distributor’s leadership pipeline, but an unhappy, long-term employee can wreak havoc on the firm’s new worker recruiting/retention efforts.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, there is a strong correlation between a competent manager and an employee’s satisfaction. In other words, the more competent the boss, the more likely his or her subordinates are to stay with the firm. “While a competent boss is likely to retain employees, an incompetent manager is likely to have the opposite effect,” writes Kristen Hamlin in Career Trend.

“Employees are more satisfied when they feel like their managers understand their jobs and have technical competence in the field,” Hamlin continues. “Employees want managers who not only have worked their way up through the company, but who can actually do the same work as their employees and have their technical competence evaluated by their employees.”

Up, Down, and Sideways

One of the best ways to align veteran and nascent employees and get them working from the same playbook is by setting them up in mentoring programs. When long-time employees feel valued enough to be trusted with one or more “mentees,” and when those mentees have the opportunity to glean firsthand knowledge and expertise from veterans, the positive results run both ways.

Baron says a good mentoring arrangement starts by showing existing managers and supervisors the value of “looking ahead,” versus ruminating about how things “used to be.” In other words, ask them to look forward instead of backward, all while using their years or decades of expertise as a foundation for the mentoring relationship.

Take the 55-year-old senior leader who holds a lot of tribal knowledge and expertise in his head, but who may not be as tech-savvy and “digital” as a 30-year-old employee who joined the firm a few years ago. The former has worked for the distributorship for a while, enjoys his job, and plans to stay with the company for a while. “But whenever a young pup comes up and gets a job at his company,” says Baron, “that older worker feels like he’s going to be left behind.”

Distributors can help reverse that thinking by pairing the two employees up to share best practices, bounce ideas off one another, discuss challenges, and mentor one another within their respective roles. This helps the veteran worker feel valued (and value=engagement=better management styles) and the younger employee feel like he or she is part of something bigger (this is exactly what millennial workers are looking for). “It’s about maximizing the mentoring relationship by extending it up and down,” says Baron, “and even sideways.”

What Makes Them Tick?

Every generation wants meaningful work, but some just happen to be more vocal about what they want. The millennials fall into this category, and that’s something every distributor needs to start thinking about if it wants to find, recruit, and retain younger workers to fill its employee pipeline.

To keep all three generations (and the upcoming post-millennial generation too) happy in their jobs, Baron says distributors must figure out what is meaningful to those employees. In other words, what is the legacy that they want to leave in your company, and in their lives?

“Start having those deep, meaningful conversations with your employees,” Baron advises, “because the number one thing that human beings want is to belong. You have to give people a reason to want to belong to your organization and in your tribe. That’s how you build loyalty.”

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Bridget McCrea  is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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