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We talked about the fact that when their people do a great job on projects, quality, productivity, safety, etc. they need to be praised.  Praise should be given when people exceed expectations.  All too often, these CEOs admitted that they don’t give praise when their people hit it out of the park and exceed expectations.  This employee retention expert pointed out the fact it makes the owner, CEO, GM, or President look like an ingrate!  Pure and simple.  I’m not talking about gushing praise on people for every little thing they do.  That defeats the purpose of praise!

Not giving praise makes you seem like an ingrate.  However, it can be almost as bad or perhaps even worse is after giving praise you then use the words “if” or “but.”  This is how it works.  Here’s an example: “The organization recently passed a huge milestone.  This year we hit a new record in sales.  I’m proud of the efforts the entire team put into this success.  This includes the sales team, customer service, and the people who produced the product.  It was truly a team effort (Sounds great so far only now put on “but”) BUT if we had capitalized on some other opportunities our sales could have been even higher.”  By giving them praise this way, the person giving the praise has taken an incredibly positive comment and turned it into an incredibly negative one.

The group then talked about the fact they oftentimes do this with their kids.  They admitted they unconsciously do this.  They want their kids to get better, so they talk about continuous improvement.  What they do is demoralize their kids and make themselves look like a jerk.  (Or some much worse words I can’t put in the blog.)   When applied to their employees this leaves a bad taste in an employee’s mouth.  This bad taste can be the kiss of death if the employee is ever approached and recruited by another organization.  People remember incidents like this and start to wonder if the “grass is greener” on the other side of the fence.  That’s how you lose people and increase your employee turnover.

My final words of advice to the group of CEOs were to purge the words “if” and “but” from their vocabulary.  This employee retention author told them to give the praise and just shut up.  Doing so is a far better employee retention strategy!

Are you struggling with employee retention?  If so, send an email to jeff@jeffkortes.com with the title, “I’m desperate” in the title line and I will reach out to you and show you how to significantly reduce your employee turnover.”