People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. The number one reason cited in exit interviews is “poor supervisory behavior.” In other words, bad bosses. Poor leadership can plague any industry, for-profit or not-for profit. The for profit world is pursuing profit, and the non-profit world is pursuing social change but if you think for one second that a career “doing good” gives you a hall pass from a bad boss, think again.
Here’s the good news what motivates employees isn’t money. Want to learn more? Watch this video of a Dan Pink lecture and find out. Want to know what really motivates your employees? Be brave, ask. Do a survey. Ask your employees to rank in order what are the most important to them: compensation, mission, leadership, core values, autonomy, praise/recognition, and future opportunities for growth. It’s important to ask. Asking makes your employees feel valued and respected. It’s also important because what motivates each of us is different. And that includes you!
My recipe for getting your employees excited to come to work everyday is 5 ingredients:
1) Trust them and show it. Here’s a great example of this: Evaluate your employees by their results, not how many hours they put in. This means trusting your direct reports to get the job done with the freedom to work from home or take flex time.
2) Give them praise that is specific, prompt and meaningful. Have a hard time remembering to do this? Let’s assume you have 5 direct reports. Start the day with 5 coins in your right pocket. Every time you praise one of your direct reports, move one coin to the other pocket.
3) Make it fun. Hold staff retreats on a monthly basis and trade off who plans it. Even on a tiny budget you can have a great time.
4) Communicate! The fastest way to change a behavior is with immediate feedback (just like your praise). Be fast (speak to the employee within hours of the event happening) and be specific and constructive. Also, meet with your direct reports weekly. It can be as quick as a 30 minute meeting but never save your frustrations for a quarterly or an annual review. Those reviews should have NO SURPRISES in them because you should be communicating your constructive feedback weekly to your reports.
5) Take the pieces of your culture that everyone loves and document it. Share it in your employee orientation so people know right away what kind of culture they are walking into, i.e. what the rules are, what is rewarded and what’s expected of them.
Leading others an incredible responsibility and opportunity. It is humbling to be entrusted with someone’s career. Make it great!