Keep Your Critical Players

People-development converts payroll costs to asset-investment


Post 1 of 3: Olga and Sharon were part of the team proposing the company strategy to be used in executing the Department of Labor compensation changes that would impact about 20% of their exempt population.  They had volunteered to share with the training group the topics the strategy team felt were critical to review with the supervisors of these employees.

As key representative for the training group, Samuel was facilitating the meeting, “Sharon and Olga, your preparation has been great, and tying these topics back to their new-leader curriculum will help the participants absorb and apply the expectations quickly.  Building it as a review will also give us more delivery options; they will appreciate that.
“Before we finish, I’d like more of your input with two of these areas: re-recruiting your best people and engaging individual team members.  I think our recent Engagement content may be more robust than is needed, and the re-recruiting section in their earlier overview of Change-Management is pretty minimal.  I’d like your perspective.”

“I had that same thought,” Sharon responded. “I wondered about framing it more like ‘using engagement practices with specific change-management principles in order to re-recruit.’  I mean, statistics show that it’s likely that some of our best employees may start actively shopping for a new job that pays above the new overtime minimums – especially if they view this as a career-limiting change.  So the content goal would be to prioritize re-recruiting our best performers, but the training would review 1) the actions leaders take during change and 2) those strategies all leaders should be using to engage our employees.”

“You’re good at this!” Olga smiled. “What do you think of that idea, Samuel?”

“Yes, yes!” He responded as he stepped to the whiteboard. “I brought copies of those course outlines, and I’d like you to review them and see if we can bullet a structure using your suggestion.  You are the ones who have been living with this change for weeks now, so I think you have the best vision of what will be needed.  Can we try that?”

“Certainly,” Sharon smiled and pulled a napkin with names on it from her purse, “I have four direct-reports that are critical in our team’s success, so I’m glad to help with that.”

Together the group outlined the key concepts to be covered from the change-management training:

Identify strong employees you feel are critical to the success of the implemented change and personalize a re-recruitment plan early; your strategy should allow you to act on the plan regularly throughout the transition:

  • How will you ensure your communication stays open and interactive with them?
  • How will you ensure they are not taken for granted?
  • How will you wisely take them into your confidence or ask for their ideas or opinions?
  • How might you assign key roles or special projects to confirm you value them?

Typically, employees consider exit strategies at two key times during change:

  1. when the change is announced
  2. when implementing the change begins to get tough

Implementation gets tough when people try new things and feel an identity crisis: example -when the exempt-to-hourly employees try to get all their work done in 40 hours

  • Check in one-on-one more frequently
  • Expect and be patient with their frustration when they try something new or meet obstacles; give emotional support where needed
  • Provide stability and minimize surprises where possible
  • Make applicable resources available to establish new habits or learning
  • Raise the bar as individuals meet it

Capitalize on their energy when employees begin to seek for solutions

  • Encourage risk-taking and forgive mistakes; look for projects that spotlight expertise and acknowledge appreciation for key players
  • Give more advanced notice of further adjustments resulting from the change
  • Appreciate humor and celebrate successful solutions
  • Expect setbacks but guard against relapses that make habits of old ways

Keep the door open for ANY employee to surprise you; some careers soar with challenge!

  • Respect everyone’s needs:
      examples: energize the whole team around productivity; personalize motivations when coaching; watch for burn-out from extended stress
  • Remind everyone of career opportunities:
    examples: opportunities exist for those willing to take action; this is a time to test your limits; more suggestions are welcome at the table
  • Warn everyone of career dangers:
    examples: freezing when feeling vulnerable; damaging trust with self-preservation behaviors; acting helpless

As Samuel snapped a picture of their whiteboard work, he thanked his colleagues and offered, “I feel great about this output, but I’d like to suggest a shorter follow-up session to talk about how the Engagement pieces fit into this.  Is that possible for you two?”
“I agree; I think a brain-rest would give me better perspective,” Olga responded, scrolling to her calendar.
Sharon nodded, “…and I’d like to review the Engagement content your team offered last year; I think that will help save time when we meet.  Samuel, thanks for making this so productive.”

Reality: “It’s the good swimmers who are most likely to jump ship, and it’s high-risk management to assume that your key players are going to remain just because they have not publicly announced they plan to leave.” Pritchett

FOLLOW US & don’t miss the next PEPPERBOX blog:  What is Employee Engagement and why do experts say it is the new competitive advantage?

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