Workforce Retention

A recent article entitled “The Real Reason Workers Quit Their Jobs,”(apologies to the author, can’t find their name) prompted some thoughts which I have been silly enough to batter into my keyboard. Here goes:-
When I left full time work a few years ago, as was the tradition, I was asked to deliver a leaving speech. This is usually a combination of some humorous anecdotes and thanks to friends and colleagues. After 35 years in the teaching profession and at all levels of management, I thought I’d learnt a little about the job and attempted to impart at least one pearl of wisdom to those who were still awake, listening and not too eager to dash off to the pub. (There were only about 120 of them chafing at the bit.) I said, “If I was a good teacher it was because I always tried to find something good in every child I taught! That doesn’t mean I was “Uncle Al, the kiddies pal”. I gave out a few verbal lashings in my time, and hopefully, most of them were well deserved.
I’m sure we’ve all come across the teacher who should never have entered the profession because they positively hate kids, and at even at the drop of a hat will try to find something wrong and a reason to criticise or leave the child in the corridor. Also, there always seems to be a boss whose been promoted into a position of incompetence, and for all the wrong reasons. Management and leadership is a skill.
In my position as a Senior Leader I was asked at one Monday morning briefing if I’d like to say anything to the staff. I said yes and uttered “Please folks when you go out there this week don’t forget… four strokes to every poke!” In other words find reasons to praise the students, before you chastise them. This became a bit of a mantra. (I can hear Etchells, Holty, Barnet and a few others reading this now and saying, he never did that to us! Sorry guys, you were far too cool!)
“Right” I hear you say, “what’s this got to do with the price of fish?” well in my current role I find I’m dealing, on occasions, with leadership issues and the training of future leaders. We often discuss the characteristics of a good boss and 99% of the time people say that the best manager they ever had, made them feel valued, and respected. “How?” I ask. “They praised me, asked for and listened to my opinion, said thank you, told me what a good job I was doing. If I ever made a mistake they questioned me quietly, usually in private and helped me look at alternative solutions.
When comes down to the nitty gritty, most good bosses are good coaches and do the right thing either by training or instinct. Academics amongst you, I’m sure, will now be thinking, coaches question, teachers tell and oh how wonderful the learning continuum from experiential to didactic classroom strategies concentrates debate… I don’t think so!
This takes me on to another issue; how many people in society feel valued, and feel respected? Watching the recent documentary about Kenny Dalglish, (Liverpool FC and Glasgow Celtic, legendary soccer player and manager) he talks about the club* as a family and how all people who worked for the club deserved respect because they fulfilled a role and the role was important or it wouldn’t be there.
My wife gets embarrassed when I ask the street cleaner in town when was the last time his boss told him he was doing a good job. He says he doesn’t, and I say, well I think you are, and without people like you the place would be a hovel!
One of my bosses fell out with me because I told them their problem was that they thought they were the most important person in the place, and pointed out that the most important person was the caretaker because if they didn’t open the gates and classrooms in a morning no work and no learning would take place. For me, the bottom line is that good bosses, value, respect and above all, develop their staff, promote and model the same ethos through all levels of management and in return they get a loyal, well-motivated workforce, don’t struggle with retention or recruitment and gain a solid reputation – that’s a person I could work for and work with!

* For “club” also read business, school, company, etc.

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