Want a toaster with that?

Photo of a plain white toaster on a plain grayish backgroundOkay, so I just dated myself with that headline – but – do you remember the days when banks would offer a toaster (no, really: a toaster) if you opened a new account?

And more seriously, have you ever been a loyal customer of a brand or business – and then felt betrayed and overlooked when that brand or business offered a nice juicy deal for new customers, but nothing for existing customers?

I have. I think most people have.

In one case, I called customer support to complain.

Sorry, they said. Nothing we can do, they said.

I cancelled my account. I rather doubt that’s what their promotion was intended to accomplish.

Are you paying attention?

There’s a lot of talk about the “war for talent.”

And there’s a study from Lattice (an employee management software platform) that says that between 52% and 59% of new hires – people who’ve been with the company for six months or less – are already actively job-hunting.

The cost of replacing employees is a whole lot higher than most people think, including Google. If you do a search on the subject, mostly what you find is a multiple of salary – whether annual, or some monthly factor. But in doing research, I uncovered many factors that most of those estimates aren’t considering, well beyond the obvious costs of recruiting and hiring. (Click here to download a spreadsheet, validated by senior HR executives, with examples, and run the calculation for your specific situation.)

So what to do about it?

Focus on the managers right in front of you. The ones who are trying to keep a gazillion balls in the air and another gazillion spinning plates in motion.

I said it before the pandemic, and I’ll say it even louder now: the most effective way – across all factors (time, cost, results) – to improve employee retention is to support and empower your first-line managers.

As Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said, the first-line manager is now the “full-service concierge” for all aspects of employee interaction, from onboarding onward.

And as Nadella pointed out in his podcast interview on Adam Grant’s Work Life TED podcast (that’s the Apple Podcasts link), “The managers in first-line in fact are the most stressed because they lack the support and the connection from the company.”

It’s pretty clear, right? Nadella isn’t the only one saying this. I’ve seen article after article with the same message: managers are struggling more than ever – and their pre-pandemic success rate wasn’t that great to begin with.

Why? Because the skills required to be an excellent individual team member are extremely different from the skills required to be a good manager and leader. The individual employee excels because of their attention to the details required to get tasks done on time and with quality. That’s what they’ve been judged upon and rewarded for throughout their career.

And now they have to manage the people doing the jobs they used to do.

It’s a Grand Canyon-sized leap.

Obviously, if you have open positions that need filling, that requires some of your attention.

But don’t be like those brands and businesses that only focus on getting new people in the door.

Pay attention to your current people – and the best way to do that is to pay attention to your current managers, so they can pay attention, effectively and courageously, to their people.

Let’s talk about how you can do that. Contact me to set a time to discuss the potential for your managers to excel as the leaders you need to grow and succeed!