Lessons learned from the “Great Resignation”
What effective leaders do to retain talent

Since the start of the pandemic, video conferencing and online collaboration tools enabled remote teams to be productive and efficient. The record speed transition was fairly straight forward. The maturity of applications and the bandwidth of home networks allowed global teams to keep up with their objectives and even exceed them.

 

The “Great Resignation” this year taught us an important lesson that was not as straight forward as the switch to online collaboration tools:

"Connectivity is not a Connection".

 

 

In fairness, we have to acknowledge that some percentage of the resignations were delayed career moves due to the pandemic uncertainties.      Yet, many more employees resigned since their leaders didn’t rise to being an effective remote-team leader in a competitive talent market.

The good news - most of the reasons that lead to employees’ resignation can be addressed.

Leaders often ask me what specifically they can do to be an effective leader during this new-normal.

Here is a practical and actionable to-do list that enables leaders to motivate and retain their teams:

Be sincere about employees’ wellness

  • Fiercely prioritize objectives and communicate them to the team – Don’t let employees get overwhelmed by requests that come from all directions and lack of clear priorities.

  • Set availability and response time expectations based on real and explained business needs, and respect these boundaries.

  • Lead by example and show employees that your wellness is important too - don't send messages over the weekend or from vacation. When you are off you are off. Otherwise employees feel they also need to be “present’ during their time-off.

  • Ask and don’t assume – despite your best intentions, your wellness and needs might be different than your employees’. Solicit and welcome input from employees about their needs and priorities.

  • Lead with empathy – listen to your employees, clarify your understanding, tell them that you care, and take actions to demonstrate that you sincerely care about their situation, needs, and requests.

  • Network with colleagues in your industry to learn new ideas, and implement valuable ones that may work for your team. Examples: a quarterly recharge day when everyone is off at the same time, or no meeting days.

               

Upgrade communication

  • Use a variety of communication channels to exchange and share information, including polls and surveys. Communication is a two-way street, and employees have a variety of preferences about what channels work best for them.

  • Repeat important messages and verify these were clearly understood. Communication is not what you want to say, not even what you said. Communication is what the audience understood from what was being said.

  • Increase written communication about best practices and processes. Written information is at the heart of effective remote work.

  • Provide incentives for employees to share useful written information and to keep it current, since outdated information creates confusion and stress.

  • Ensure employees know where to find the information they need. Knowing the information is there without the ability to search and find it is not helpful for them.

  • Ask for input and feedback about your leadership and use it respectfully.

 

Balance business needs with career aspirations

  • Initiate thoughtful and sincere career development discussions with all employees to understand their motivation and expectations.

  • Communicate career opportunities and encourage internal promotions and transfers. Employees want to know they can grow with the company.

  • Accept and respect that some employees are not looking (currently) to advance their careers for a variety of reasons.

  • Develop a culture of learning.

  • Offer employees mentorship, sponsorship, and coaching opportunities.

 

Creating a positive work environment and developing authentic connection with employees enable leaders to retain their talent during the uncharted waters of the “Great Resignation”.

Leaders often ask me what specifically they can do to be an effective leader during this new-normal.

My recommendation is to focus on the

following 3 strategies:

  • Be sincere about employees’ wellness

  • Upgrade communication

  • Balance business needs with career aspirations