Posted on April 1, 2014

Your 6 Top Personnel Management Questions Answered

Studies show that 66 percent of all lost customers can be traced to an interaction a customer had with an indifferent employee. Is your organization doing enough to keep employees satisfied and engaged?

In a recent webinar, noted HR expert and consultant Leigh Branham answered six common questions about how best to motivate and manage a complex workforce.

Question: Are Millennials looking for different types of feedback than Baby Boomers?

Answer: The Millennials are looking at the kind of day-to-day feedback they have been getting from their parents. Boomer parents have coached their kids much more intensively than their parents coached them. And so a lot of Millennials come into the workplace expecting the frequency of contact and coaching that they got from their parents. … But a lot of Boomer managers are not managing their employees the way they have coached their sons and daughters. That’s a paradigm that’s shifting, because employers are recognizing that Millennials need more frequent feedback.

Q: How is new-hire retention rate typically measured?

A: Every company needs to do it a little differently. If you’re a small company and you don’t have a lot of turnover, you would maybe measure it in a two-year period, whereas a company that has a lot of turnover and hires a lot of people, typically it’s one year. It’s also important to look at why you lost them: was it avoidable? And if you’re not doing exit interviews in such a way that people are telling you the truth, you’re not going to know that. That’s why a lot of companies are using a third party to do exit interviews, so they get the real truth from people.

Q: How would you suggest coaching my managers offer feedback specific to an employee's style (e.g., Millennials vs. Boomers) instead of a one-size-fits-all approach?

A: What it really comes down to is not what generation they’re in, but that each individual is a little bit different. I have two Millennial sons, and they’re very different from each other. What we need to do is understand that each employee needs to be coached a little differently. Some of the best basketball coaches understand that some people can be challenged and you can raise your voice with them, and others, if you do that, you’ll really turn them off. So we need to get to know our employees well enough to know what kind of feedback works best and how to deliver it. Specific feedback is best; feedback that happens as soon as possible after something happens. It should be very specific, talking about the behavior and not the person, talking about the impact of the behavior on the customer. There are very specific rules on how to give feedback that a lot of managers aren’t aware of. That’s where HR people need to be doing more training.

Q: As an HR administrator, how can we get a passive upper management to understand that engagement and training are important?

A: You need to present the business case, and there’s a lot of data to show what the business case is. One company, Cardinal Health, did its own study that showed that for a 10 percent increase in employee engagement, they could see a 1 percent increase in profits. … There is research out there on that. Senior leaders have to understand this is a business decision they’re making when they invest in employee engagement. It’s not soft; it’s very hard.

Q: What do you think about the use of pre-hiring psychological testing?

A: I am for it, as long as it’s validated. You need to take your high performers over the last several years and give that (testing) instrument to them. And if it can be shown that there’s a correlation between that instrument and high performance, then go forward and use that instrument.

Q: If our company doesn’t give out bonuses, what’s the best way to financially compensate workers? Or should we rethink the anti-bonus mentality?

A: My feeling is, bonuses are a great way of sharing in the success of the company, adding a degree of ownership. There are also bonuses given out based on team results. Perhaps the senior leaders should consider the advantage of having bonuses based on team results, not individuals. That may be part of the reason they are resisting. I’m a big believer in bonuses, a big believer in ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans), because they encourage a sense of ownership, which equates directly to engagement.


You can hear more from Leigh Branham in his webinar, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, to get tips and insights to improve your organization’s culture and employee retention rate.

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