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New year, new start?

Written by Martin Reed on Friday, 04 January 2013. Posted in Engagement, People

While you may be planning that 2013 is the year you’ll network more/exceed your sales targets/expand into new markets, how many of your employees are resolving ‘This year I will find a new job’, asks Martin Reed

New year, new start?

After quitting smoking, joining the gym and losing weight, finding a new job is perhaps the most popular New Year’s resolution. Straight after the Christmas break, the job-hunting frenzy kicks off as employees start to think about the year ahead: where their career is heading, and whether they are actually happy in their current role. 

While this mass exodus can strike fear into any employer’s heart, there are steps you can take to minimise staff attrition and make sure your staff are happy to stay where they are. Research repeatedly shows that employees who are dissatisfied in their roles tend to give fairly predictable reasons for feeling that way – and, perhaps surprisingly, it’s not often related to salary.

In a recent survey conducted by salary.com, half of employees said they felt unappreciated, 35% said they needed their employers to set clearer goals and nearly a third of respondents said their unhappiness was a result of not getting along with a boss or manager – all of which are issues that can be addressed fairly easily with the right attitude, the right knowledge and the right tools. 

One of the key points to remember, when looking at how to make employees feel appreciated and keep morale high, is to ensure you are communicating with them in the way that they prefer and appreciate what drives them. Each of your staff will have communication and working style preferences, so one of the most important things you can do to increase staff motivation and loyalty is to try to understand more about your employees’ behaviour – their natural communication style, how they like to work and what drives them. 

If you don’t deal directly with your employees, then you need to make sure your managers are managing to their full potential by working with staff, rather than rubbing them up the wrong way. Just because you find it easy to get on with a manager, don’t assume that the rest of the team will as well. A key element of good management is for line managers to become aware of their own approach to people management and be able to modify it when dealing with staff who have different styles to their own. This will help staff feel more appreciated and minimise misunderstandings. Clear communication and effective leadership can help stop minor issues becoming major problems.

At Thomas International, our psychometric assessments identify four behavioural traits that influence behaviour in the workplace – dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance. Each individual has varying levels of each trait, but the dominant traits will dictate how that person likes to communicate with others, how they prefer others to communicate with them, what motivates them and what they need for job satisfaction. 

There are strengths and limitations associated with each trait. For example, dominant people tend to be direct, forceful and assertive, which is great for communication that is short, to the point and free from waffle, but conversely they may be poor listeners and their body language might come across as aggressive. Influencers are often persuasive, positive and friendly but they may waffle without focus or direction. People with high steadiness are likely to be methodical and patient but their single-paced, measured delivery might seem boring to others. Compliant people tend to be logical, accurate and precise but their communication might be so tightly packed with facts that the listener is overwhelmed. By recognising that other people in your organisation are likely to be led by different behavioural traits enables you to become aware of the differences, appreciate the dissatisfaction that can arise from mismatched behavioural styles and learn to adapt your style of delivery to suit the person you are addressing.   

Perhaps the 35% of employees who wish their employers would set clearer goals have a behavioural preference for steadiness or compliance and feel more comfortable with measurable goals, facts and figures – a simple enough issue to remedy once you understand their need for more measured boundaries and something that psychometric assessment can help you to identify.

Likewise, respondents who felt unappreciated perhaps will have high levels of dominance and influence and may be reacting to a lack of opportunity in their current role for sociability, praise, power, influence or feedback, instead of dissatisfaction with the job itself. By factoring in opportunities for them to be more sociable or receive more verbal praise, you will probably find their job satisfaction increases. 

Making sure that your staff morale is high by understanding how different people operate at work and responding effectively, and appropriately, will do more for your business than simply lessening the number of staff who are looking for new jobs this January – when a team is working together efficiently, behavioural styles are appreciated, and team members feel understood and valued, your business will be on track for a productive, successful and harmonious 2013.

About the Author

Martin Reed

Reed has been at the helm of psychometric testing company Thomas International since 2007, after being appointed as chairman two years earlier. As well as penning this regular column for Elite Business he is also a founding member of the Bucks Business First and a fellow of the Institute of Directors.

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