Why Employees Stay
Yesterday in our executive team meeting I was reminded of the well-known statement that “employees don’t quit jobs, they quit managers and office environments.” The research by brain scientists such as Daniel Pink and positivity in the workplace research by Losada, Heaphy and others, bear this out.
When we sat down for our meeting there was not only a high frustration level in the room but also fatigue… The server went down, the IT support group was slow on the uptake, pressing deadlines for proposals, marketing and other initiatives were stretched to the max by information not accessible on the recalcitrant server hard disk, to name only a few issues.
Instead of jumping into the agenda, I requested that we take two minutes for each to just blow off steam. Permission was granted by all to not even try to be skillful, but to simply express what was there. Profanity was welcomed. Everybody looked around in a dazed way and the unspoken question was; “2 minutes? You got to be kidding! I need 30!” Well, everyone let it rip as we took turns. First round done – with a lot of laughter and relief – I offered another round that nobody picked up.
The next thing we did was to go around in the same order that we spoke, and to offer appreciation and acknowledgement to each team member. What followed was truly amazing. The invisible web of support and caring for each other showed brilliantly as colleagues were spotlighted in simple, authentic, quirky language.
What we don’t appreciate and reveal often enough to our teams, is why people stay. Staying is a systemic event of love and caring in which every member of the team holds a strand of deep co-responsibility for each other, the team, and ultimately the organization. How do you support and honor those invisible strands of positivity between other team members – not only the ones you have most connection and interaction with?
We have formalized this exercise into a ritual we use in our meetings and benefited from a couple of great side effects: we actually look forward to the beginning of meetings, and we remember that we can control how we feel about working together.