How to Make Personal Growth Your #1 Retention Strategy in 2018

Are you spending as much time and energy on retaining your people as you are attracting them?

Today’s young professionals want more than a paycheck. They want to work hard at work worth doing. They want work with personal meaning and growth. And if they’re not getting it at your company, they will look for it somewhere else.  

Consider this: The average millennial spends 1.6 years at a company before leaving and 93% of those who leave are leaving to change roles. This turnover costs the U.S. economy $30 billion annually. (Gallup)

What is this turnover costing your company?

If you want to build a high-performing workforce, you need to cultivate your people for the long-term.

So where do you start?

Make growth and development a strategic priority within your company.

5 Ways to Leverage Personal Growth for Retention

I’ve outlined five critical elements for an effective recruitment and retention strategy that places growth and development at the core.

1. Attract applicants with personal growth opportunities: In this market, you can’t compete on compensation alone. You have to demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the furthering the skill set and expertise of the people you bring on board.

Some tips to consider:

  • Help your candidate identify areas of improvement that they can develop within your company.

  • Share stories of candidates who have grown through the ranks of your company.

  • Talk about leadership development opportunities and the highly skilled coaching and mentorship capacity of managers.

2. Onboard with personal growth planning: In the first few weeks of onboarding, make sure that every team member has a personal growth plan that includes his/her personal mission, goals, and growth edges (the areas of improvement that would make the biggest difference to one’s professional development and team performance).

Important Note: It’s imperative that each team member feels that they are “owners” of this plan. While it’s helpful to be guided in this process by a manager, the team member ultimately is responsible for his/her growth.  

Some tips to consider:

  • Create a personal growth plan template that inspires and motivates new team members for stellar performance.

  • Check competence levels on goals. Don’t assume that team members are fully competent on the goals they are responsible for. If a team member does not feel competent on a goal, then you’ve just identified a growth edge! Help your team member map out a path to ramp up in this area in the months ahead.

  • Help your team members identify growth edges that are not just about personal fulfillment. You are looking for areas of improvement that boost personal growth AND team performance. The pursuit of a growth edge enables your team member to further his/her skill set and help your organization achieve critical business objectives.

3. Train your managers to be people developers: Your managers need to know how to coach people for peak performance. This means helping team members make commitments, check for alignment to those commitments, and continuously coach to close the “saying-doing gap” on commitments.

Some tips to consider:

  • Train your managers to coach. This is not an innate skill set. Managers need lots of experience and practice learning how to shape high-performing mindsets and behaviors.

  • Establish peer coaching relationships amongst managers. Managers often need coaching themselves to develop these critical skills. Working with peers is a highly effective and inexpensive way to foster these capabilities.

  • Work with a rockstar coach with excellent training and facilitation expertise. Hire external resources to help your managers advance their coaching skills.

4. Develop internal capacity for team members to coach each other: Growth happens daily - and managers are not always around for those critical moments when it happens. Your team members need to have a basic foundation in coaching to “unblock” quickly and further each other’s development.

Some tips to consider:

  • Introduce a simple coaching model (such as GROW) to your team members and practice in team meetings.

  • Pair team members for peer coaching sessions that meet weekly.

  • Equip your team members with critical skills in feedback and recognition to encourage growth and development in each other.

5. Retain team members through capturing and sharing their own personal growth stories: It’s key to have periodic reflection moments to assess how team members have grown and share those stories more broadly. These moments reinforce the learning and help people feel a sense of accomplishment that propels future growth.

Some tips to consider:

  • Schedule 1:1 time for personal growth reflection.

  • Encourage team members to share personal growth stories in team meetings.

  • At the end of a project or quarter, invite team members to share how they have personally developed as a result of the initiative.

When your team members own their growth, seek coaching from each other for improvements, and achieve epic wins regularly - you’ve successfully created a high-performing culture. It’s not easy to get there, but it’s definitely worth the energy investment to make it happen.  

Companies who strategically place growth and development as a priority in the years ahead will truly lead the workforce of the future.


Need some help with this? Reach out for a complimentary strategy session on creating a high performance growth and development culture for your company. 

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Shannon Hall