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As an employee retention speaker and employee retention author, I am always struck by how little leaders know about the people they work for, those they work with and the people that work for them.  This amazes me in that we spend probably a minimum of 8 waking hours a day with these people in relatively confined quarters.  Unlike at home where you may be working out in the yard while the wife is doing something else or you go out for a beer with your friends so you may not be around your spouse.  Then, take into account that you hit the gym and go for a workout.  I would venture a guess that we spend about 4 waking ours with the people in our family vs. 8 hours with the people at work.  Yet…I am amazed at how little we often know about our people.  That is a major mistake.

We tend to make work so impersonal that it’s cold and we don’t have the level of involvement with each other that would make it more fun to be at work.  Granted, you may not like certain people but that is generally not the case.  I am a believer that a boss should try to learn an average of one new thing about their people every day.  That should be the goal.  This would require you to sit down and actually spend some time with the person talking and learning about each other.  Learn their likes…their dislikes and the things they are passionate about.  This came up in a session this employee retention trainer was doing on how to help your people progress in their career.  It requires asking people questions and listening.  The responses you get will give you incredible insight into what makes them tick and future roles where they might excel.

I have recommended as an employee retention strategy that every leader in one organization I work with set aside 30 minutes a week to learn about their people with certain exercises designed to facilitate the process.  The revelations that come about that enable leaders to then channel the strengths of their people is amazing.  Our problem is that we don’t take the time and the effort to do so.  When you do, it is amazing what you learn.  It also gives us a deeper appreciation of the employee as a person and not just an employee.

If you want a depersonalized organization that probably performs at an average level…learn nothing about your co-workers.  If you want to take it to the next level, one of the great employee retention strategies I have is to know who they are, what gets them pumped up, what motivates them and what their future plans are.  Once you know your people, it will open up a whole new dynamic in the workplace.  This is a dynamic that will drive performance, improve employee recruitment as well as employee retention.