This employee retention speaker was a middle level manager in human resources for a good part of my career. I was not a VP at thirty and spent most of my time in plants or facilities that were not the corporate office. I learned very early on that senior leadership doesn’t run the place. They may think they do but in reality, team leaders, first-line supervisors and middle level leaders are the ones that make sure that the place runs smoothly and that the work gets done. They are also the group that drives employee retention. After all, the vast majority of the people work for those people.
When I talk C.R.A.P. (Caring, Respect, Appreciation and Praise), I talk to front-line leaders because they are the ones that dole out the C.R.A.P. How often does the average person working in the cubes, on the floor of the hospital, or the floor of the plant see a President, General Manager or Hospital Administrator. Not often!
As an HR professional and now as an employee retention trainer, I realize that if the “middle” runs the place, that is who I need to work with if I hope to lower employee turnover when I am consulting to an organization. These are the people that are close to most of the issues that matter to employees. These are the people that need the resources to get the job done and need to be accountable (in part) for employee retention. If an employee does not feel appreciated, it is probably because their immediate supervisor never says anything positive or doesn’t even bother talking to them during the course of the day. So, at the end of the day they go home and complain to someone how they feel and that someone asks them, “Why don’t you look for another job?” That’s how it works. They probably had NO interaction with senior leadership at all. Therefore, who should get most of the credit or be held mostly accountable for lousy turnover? In this employee retention author’s book, it is the “middle.”
The true formula for success in employee retention is to give the “middle” the tools to do their job and support them on a strategic level so that they are able to impact employee retention. Instead, we just say, we have an employee retention problem and leave it at that instead of asking the “middle” what they think will solve the problem and give them the support they need to get the job done.