The Best Way To Keep Your Best Employees


Why do you think employees leave?

More money?  A bigger, better title?  A more flexible schedule?

If you are a leader in your organization, this is a question you need to understand.  Employee turnover leads to additional hiring and training costs for the company and typically leads to a decline in overall team enthusiasm and productivity.

In his 2013 article (Six Reasons Your Best Employees Quit You), Louis Efron gives these six reasons your employees are leaving your company:

  1. No vision
  2. No connection to the big picture
  3. No empathy
  4. No (effective) motivation
  5. No future
  6. No fun

And in his 2005 article for The Center for Association Leadership, Leigh Branham lists seven reasons employees leave.  Two of these reasons include:

  • There is too little coaching and feedback.
  • Workers feel devalued and unrecognized.

As leaders, we have a challenge and responsibility to address these shortcomings.

Today, I will help you identify one of the key action steps you can take to positively change things.  By implementing my suggestion, your team members will get the coaching they desire, they will gain a greater feeling of value, they will feel like they are better understood, and they will experience a higher level of motivation.

Today, I challenge you to implement regular one-on-one meetings with your team members.  A regular one-on-one meeting will make all the difference in giving your team members just what they need to feel valued, appreciated, motivated, and excited for their future in your organization.

Here’s my story:

A few years ago, I started having monthly one-on-one meetings with my team members.

As an operations manager in the construction industry, I’m challenged to balance my time as I’m responsible to make sure my group is operating as planned. I meet with my team members monthly on an individual basis to review their projects from a financial, resource, risk, and customer perspective. These monthly meetings, which typically last about an hour, provide a pretty good snapshot of things from a business perspective, but they don’t provide a lot of time for diving deeper personally.

I’m also responsible for participating in other department and company meetings. Again, these meetings are important for certain aspects of our business success, but they typically don’t provide opportunity for connecting on a more personal level.

I’ve heard it said that “It’s business, it’s NOT personal.”  Well, I disagree.  As a leader in the workforce, I have a responsibility care for my team members.  For me, this means our relationships in the business world are meant to be personal.

How can we take time to connect with our team members with all the different demands on our time?

This is the question that rolled around in my head as first started considering the possibility of implementing regular one-on-one meetings.  I have so many things on my plate already.  One-on-one meetings just didn’t seem to fit into my already busy schedule.

But my friend, Matt McWilliams, challenged me with this question:

How can you NOT take time to connect with your team members?

And so…I took Matt’s challenge and encouragement to heart.  And I started holding monthly one-on-one meetings with my team members.

We talk about business and the challenges that they are facing on a project or assignment.  And we also talk about life outside of work.  I’ve learned about their interests, their passions, and their families.

For the most part, these meetings have been 30-40 minutes each.  I use a one-page outline to guide our discussion and to take notes which helps me capture details of our discussion.  I first ask my team member for an update on how they are doing and what has them busy.  After 15-20 minutes of catching up, I typically have 5-10 minutes of items I want to cover with them.  We finish our meeting with an opportunity for them to ask for help.  With 10 direct reports, these notes have been essential to helping me remember our conversations.  And it helps with my follow through on any action items that I have taken from our meeting.  (NOTE: You can download Matt McWilliam’s one-on-one meeting template here.)

What difference does it make if you know your team members?

It makes all the difference in the world.

The average working person spends 9-10 hours of their days at work – every day. (That’s two-thirds or more of their waking hours).  Most people work over 2100 hours every year.  If my math is correct, most people work about 80,000 hours in their life time.  However you do the math, we spend a lot of time at work.

We are relational beings.  We are made to connect with others and to be in community with others.

We are missing a huge opportunity to connect with others if we go to work, come home, get our paycheck, but fail to connect with our co-workers.

Intentional connections

My one-on-one meetings have helped me be intentional in connecting with my team.  It’s helped my team to feel more connected to me.  And it’s also helped my team succeed from a business perspective.

I’m so thankful I listened to Matt and started having one-on-one meetings with my team.

Regular one-on-one meetings with our team members leads to reduced employee turnover, more satisfied employees, a better culture in your business, and greater business success.  I have also discovered that one-on-one meetings provide an excellent place to discuss employee development.  My team members have pursued advanced educational opportunities as a result of our discussions during our one-on-one meetings.  They’ve also taken steps to advance further on the road to achieving their career goals.

Call to Action:

  • If you are leading a team, it’s time for you to implement regular one-on-one meetings (if you’re not doing this already).
  • If you are not leading a team but you feel disconnected from your boss or your organization, it’s time for you to ask your boss to start having one-on-one meetings with you.

Do you have one-on-one meetings with your team?  If so, how have they made a difference?  If not, what are you waiting for?

Do you have one-on-one meetings with your boss?  How have these meetings helped you?

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