Why You’re Losing Good People: Top 5 Retention Mistakes and How to Fix Them featured image

Why You’re Losing Good People: Top 5 Retention Mistakes and How to Fix Them

By: Hero Frenzel

~ 4 minute read

Retaining is the new Recruiting

Employee turnover is expensive – really expensive. Gallup states that 51% of employees are watching for or actively seeking a new job. Estimates peg the cost of regrettable turnover at up to 2x an employee’s annual salary when you factor in hiring, onboarding, training, lost productivity, and more. But beyond the financial hit, high turnover disrupts teams, hurts morale, and makes it difficult to build an engaged, high-performing workforce.

This blog isn’t going to rehash compensation strategies for retaining talent (though that’s obviously important). Instead, we’re looking at five common people management mistakes that drive good employees out the door – and what to do differently.

  1. Not Setting Clear Expectations
  2. Failing to Recognize and Reward Appropriately
  3. Not Listening or Reacting to Employee Concerns
  4. One-size-fits-all Coaching
  5. Lack of Flexibility


Mistake #1: Not Setting Clear Expectations 

  • Do each of my employees understand what’s expected of them?
  • Does my team have clear goals and objectives?
  • Am I giving my employees the information they need to succeed?

You can’t build a strong team if employees are fuzzy on responsibilities, goals, and how they’ll be measured. Clearly defining roles and expectations is critical for accelerated performance and talent optimization.  

The fix: First, get crystal clear on the true “asks” of each role – the key responsibilities, outputs, and behaviors required for success. Map these expectations to your hiring process to ensure candidate-job fit. Then, reinforce expectations through regular feedback and accountability.

Clarity is king. Without clear expectations and standards, employees can feel lost and unengaged. To mitigate this, employers must first understand the role’s demands and the behaviors required to excel. Mapping these behaviors and expectations to both candidates and current employees is essential. When people know what’s expected of them, they’re more likely to perform effectively and find satisfaction in their roles.


Mistake #2: Failing to Recognize and Reward Appropriately

  • Do I regularly acknowledge my employees’ efforts and achievements?
  • Do I create opportunities for recognition or to “catch” my employee doing good?
  • Are my recognition methods meaningful and personalized for each employee?

A pat on the back goes a long way. Recognition and rewards are not just about bonuses or promotions; they’re about acknowledging the hard work and dedication of your team. 69% of employees report that they would work harder if they felt more appreciated at work. Building a successful culture means reinforcing your company’s values through your actions. Celebrate the wins, no matter how small, and ensure that these celebrations align with the company’s core values and mission. This approach fosters a sense of belonging and purpose, integral to retaining top talent.


Mistake #3: Not Listening or Reacting to Employee Concerns

  • Do I proactively ask for feedback or concerns from my employees?
  • Am I approachable and available for my team when they need to discuss issues?
  • Do I take action based on feedback I receive from my employees?

It’s said that a problem shared is a problem halved. Ignoring your employees’ concerns can lead to frustration and disillusionment. Effective leaders listen and react promptly to their team’s issues. This means creating an open environment where feedback is encouraged and acted upon. By addressing problems head-on, you can prevent minor issues from snowballing into reasons for employees to leave. When leadership is transparent about goals, progress, and concerns, employees are less likely to jump ship.


Mistake #4: One-Size-Fits-All Coaching

  • Do I tailor my coaching approach to fit the individual needs and goals of each employee?
  • Am I aware of the unique strengths and motivations of each team member?
  • Do I have a personalized development plan for each of my employees?

Remember, employees don’t quit jobs; they quit managers. A one-size-fits-all approach to coaching and managing can alienate employees and stifle their growth. It’s crucial for managers to understand each employee’s unique motivators and tailor their coaching accordingly. Upping self-awareness and empathy can lead to more effective one-on-one conversations, ensuring that each team member feels valued and understood.


Mistake #5: Lack of Flexibility

  • Are workplace policies adaptable to changes in the workplace or personal circumstances of my employees?
  • Do I support and trust my team to manage their tasks and time effectively?
  • Am I open to adjusting deadlines and tasks when necessary?

In today’s work environment, flexibility is non-negotiable. A rigid structure can lead to burnout and job dissatisfaction. Offering flexible working hours, the option for remote work, or understanding personal commitments can make a significant difference in employee retention. It shows that the company values its employees’ well-being and is willing to adapt to their needs.

But what about for jobs or industries that require scheduled hours or in-person roles (retail, banking, food & bev, manufacturing – all a bit difficult to apply hybrid policies). In the situations where location and schedules are mandatory for business success, consider where else you can offer flexibility: time management, adjusting deadlines, task assignments, training opportunities, customizing work stations, and autonomy in work methods can all fill up the “flexibility” cup your employees are thirsty for.


Conclusion: It’s Time for Action

With the leadership challenge of retention, understanding and rectifying these mistakes can lead to a more engaged and committed workforce. By setting clear expectations, recognizing achievements, addressing concerns, personalizing management styles, and offering flexibility, you can significantly reduce regrettable turnover and foster an environment of growth and satisfaction.

Embrace these strategies and watch your company’s talent optimization and employee retention rates soar. It’s time to turn the tide on turnover and build a workplace where everyone is poised for success.

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Hero Frenzel

Glue of MindWire with a flair for education, media creation, and team building. Baker, actress, family woman, and aspiring beach dweller fueled by coffee, tea, and joy.