tom-moriarty

‘Give me one reason’: Have you revisited your retention strategy?

Dec. 5, 2019
Tom Moriarty says it’s not up to your employees to figure out why they should stay. It’s up to leaders to provide an environment that gives many reasons to stay.

I live in East Central Florida, known as the Space Coast. While walking on the beach one beautiful morning, listening to my blues channel, Tracy Chapman’s song “Give Me One Reason” began to play. These lyrics got me thinking:

About the Author: Tom Moriarty
Tom Moriarty, P.E., CMRP is president of Alidade MER, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in asset management, reliability engineering, and leadership improvement. He is a member of SMRP (Florida Chapter Board Member and CED Director), a past Chair of ASME’s Canaveral Florida Section, and author of the book “The Productive Leadership System; Maximizing Organizational Reliability”. He has a BSME, an MBA (organizational development), is a licensed professional engineer (PE) in Florida, and a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP). Contact him at [email protected], (321) 773-3356, or via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/alidade-mer.

“Give me one reason to stay here
And I’ll turn right back around
Give me one reason to stay here
And I’ll turn right back around
Said I don’t want leave you lonely
You got to make me change my mind.”

It struck me that these are sentiments of an employee who’s about to say “I’m outta here.” Think about it: “Give me one reason to stay here, and I’ll turn right back around” means the employee is on the verge of leaving but can be influenced to stay. However, something will need to change for that to happen.

“I don’t want to leave you lonely/You got to make me change my mind” is the employee’s sentiment that they know their peers will be let down if they leave. At the same time, something will have to change to sway the employee’s mind – “You got to make me change my mind.”

Other lyrics:

“Baby I got your number, and I know that you got mine
But you know that I called you, I called too many times
You can call me baby, you can call me anytime
You got to call me.”

“I got your number” means the employee believes they know what you’re about – what your true objectives and intentions are. Maybe they do; maybe they don’t. But they have developed their perception of the folks they work under and with through observations.

“And I know that you got mine” suggests that the employee believes that his or supervisors and colleagues know the employee’s true objectives, too. The employee believes he or she has been clear about his/her objectives and intentions. Again, it’s that employee’s perception. It may or may not be true – but for an individual, perception is reality.

Employees will let you know what’s bothering them – “you know that I called you.” But a subordinate person does not have position power. They cannot force their supervisors or managers to hear them or to act. “I called too many times” means the person doesn’t believe that you, their supervisor or manager, has heard repeated communication of problems. 

Human Capital

This article is part of our monthly Human Capital column. Read more from Tom Moriarty.

Humans want to be heard and understood. “People will make suggestions for improvements. They will tell you what’s bothering them. Are your listening skills sensitive enough to catch their messages? While about 10% of people are outspoken and direct, 90% are not. Often, a joke or a seemingly benign comment has a point behind it. Leaders need to have their radar on all of the time.

“You got to call me” means the person is done with trying to give you messages that the leader is not hearing. They have switched over to a sort of passive aggression. They are still willing to tell you their issues are, but now you have to take the initiative. Otherwise, they won’t have a reason to change their mind.

Every time others put out a message, they evaluate if they’re being heard. They also evaluate how the other person responds. The best leaders pick up subtle communication and respond appropriately. That doesn’t mean you get led around by the nose and react to every suggestion. That would lead to abject failure. It does mean you should recognize the message, evaluate it, and address it. At a minimum, it means paraphrasing what the person is telling you. Let them know you heard them and what your understanding is from what they are communicating to you.

Being a productive leader means being attentive to what others are trying to communicate. It is a talent that you should work constantly to improve.

It’s not up to your employees to figure out why they should stay. It is up to productive leaders to provide an environment that gives people many reasons – not just one – to “stay here.” If you enjoy my columns, I invite you to purchase my book. Or, you can “call me anytime” at (321) 773-3356.

About the Author

Tom Moriarty | P.E., CMRP, President of Alidade MER, Inc.

Tom Moriarty, P.E., CMRP is president of Alidade MER, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in asset management, reliability engineering, and leadership improvement. He is a member of SMRP (Florida Chapter Board Member and CED Director), a past Chair of ASME’s Canaveral Florida Section, and author of the book “The Productive Leadership System; Maximizing Organizational Reliability”. He has a BSME, an MBA (organizational development), is a licensed professional engineer (PE) in Florida, and a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP). Contact him at [email protected], (321) 773-3356, or via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/alidade-mer.

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