Finding The Elegant Solution to Employee Engagement
The key to keeping great employees is rooted in elegant simplicity, says Beverly Kaye, founder and co-CEO of Career Systems International, a Scranton, Penn.-based consultancy that focuses on talent development, employee engagement and retention. For the past 35 years, Kaye has used simple yet effective tactics to help companies from McDonald’s to Microsoft hold on to their best workers. Her three-prong approach, designed to educate organizations, line managers and employees, has gained her recognition across the globe. She’s authored several books on the subject, including Love ’Em or Lose ’Em: Getting Good People to Stay, which has sold more than 700,000 copies and has been translated into 25 languages. Her influence over the past three decades has even earned Kaye the distinction of being named an American Society of Training and Development Legend.
Kaye will be sharing her expertise during a keynote presentation at this month’s Best Practice Session hosted by Visa in Miami. Diversity Best Practices’ Editor-in-Chief Angela Johnson Meadows spoke with Kaye about the diversity/employee engagement intersection, why retention is still a struggle for companies and the questions managers need to ask to ensure great workers stay.
Engagement and retention are often viewed as human resources or talent management issues. How do they relate to diversity and inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion is celebrating the differences and utilizing the organization, the differences in people and what they have to offer. Engagement is recognizing the differences and recognizing that something different matters to each person. The constellation of what matters to me is not the constellation of what matters to you. Managers need to be able to probe a bit to learn from each individual what matters.
How can managers do that?
I’ll often ask [groups to whom I present], “When do you think most managers say the words, ‘What can I do to keep you?’” It’s at the exit interview. So I say to managers, what you need to do are “stay interviews,” so you avoid the exit interview. They don’t take a lot of time. That notion is what I mean as an example of elegant simplicity….
I often say that managers have the will, but not always the skill. They don’t say, “How can I mess up this person’s career or how can I disengage them today.” They want their people to be engaged, they want there to be a good fit, but they truly sometimes need the “how to’s.”
Managers often claim to be too busy with the company business to deal with talent development and engagement issues. Why is it so important to find the time?
If you don’t find the time, you’re going to be spending more time later after the person leaves. Sometimes they leave physically and sometimes they leave psychologically. I think the second is even more hurtful. When an employee has left psychologically, they’re toxic within the organization.
Where are organizations struggling when it comes to engagement and retention?
They sometimes confuse knowing with doing. They do an employee engagement survey…and they compile the data from the survey and they read the data and benchmark best practices and they assign the data to action teams…and all of a sudden it’s the next survey time and the doing hasn’t been done… If you’re going to do a survey, the most important thing is to actually do something with those results.
What can attendees at the April Best Practice Session expect to take away from your keynote address?
They will learn how to put simple concepts about engaging and retaining critical talent into operation immediately. They will be able to go back to their organization and actually try one or two or three things from my hour talk with their own direct reports.… And they will get to think about their own engagement in their own organizations.