It’s a cliché perhaps that ‘people work for people, not businesses’, though one that rings very true. So why is it that in so many organisations, leaders aren’t recognising the full scope of their accountability when it comes to engaging and retaining their people?
Anyone in business will understand the importance of attracting, engaging and retaining the right talent to achieve success and growth. Yet many businesses task HR with these responsibilities. There are still HR people handling all of the recruitment, attempting to influence employee engagement and, as a result, dealing with the fall-out. If managers and leaders are expecting HR to do the ‘hiring, inspiring and firing’, things will go wrong.
Teams are far less likely to accept someone they haven’t had at least some involvement in choosing and are less likely to go out of their way to set them up for success. It’s more challenging to engage someone you’re not responsible for from the outset. There is less loyalty all round and it’s far more difficult to integrate them into the business. As a result, there are more issues with performance, attitude and discipline which in turn lead to lots more work on the ‘employee relations’ front and around managing sickness and absence for HR. It’s a vicious circle.
Imagine the scenario – you have a great interview with the person who’s going to be your line manager, they keep in touch with you between the job offer and start date. Then they (or a team member) welcome you on your first day and do whatever they can to set you up to succeed. They ’show you the ropes’ and make sure you have what you need. They offer ongoing support and check in with you to make sure all’s well. They ‘own’ your engagement and are accountable for it; they therefore make it work. This is no more about the senior leader doing all the recruiting and engaging than it is about HR doing it – it has to happen at all levels.
This stuff works. Of course busy managers say they don’t have time. Often they mean that they don’t know how. And just imagine how much time they’d have if they weren’t fielding problems and having people causing issues all the time. And wouldn’t it be brilliant if HR were freed up to concentrate more on the strategic plan and getting tools in place to enable leaders and managers to attract, engage, develop and retain great people?
Next time we’ll look at growing leadership capability