4 Leadership Practices That Make  Employees Want To Stay

Tony Gambill 

One of the most pressing issues for leaders today is retaining their best talent. The  combination of an abundance of opportunities, increasing pay levels, remote working  options, and changing attitudes about work have come together to make even the most  loyal employees consider exploring new career opportunities. 

A recent survey from McKinsey cited the top reasons employers said that their employees quit  their jobs were compensation, work-life balance, and poor physical and emotional health.  By contrast, the top three factors’ employees cited as reasons for quitting were not feeling  

valued by their organizations, not feeling valued by their managers, and not feeling a sense  of belonging at work. This research highlights that organizations must address the  baseline issues of equitable pay and flexible working situations, but their leaders must  address the relational and motivational issues of the day-to-day working environment. 

Organizations need leaders who care and give workers a sense of purpose, inspiration, and  motivation to perform. Creating this type of environment does not mean that employees  will never quit their jobs, but if they choose to leave, they will be doing so because of a  great career opportunity. Below are the 4 Leadership Practices That Make Employees  Want To Stay. 

1) A Strong Foundation 

Have you worked on a team that lacked clarity of goals, priorities, and roles? If the answer  is yes, you probably experienced some of the following repercussions: 

• Low-performance levels 

• Missed deadlines 

• Lack of team trust

• Ongoing team conflict 

It is well-researched and documented that a leader must help their employees and teams  establish meaningful goals and role clarity to support performance, strong relationships,  and engagement. Without this solid team foundation, trust and performance will be a  recurring issue making employees desire a better working environment. 

Goals 

Goals provide direction, allowing employees to understand where they are now, where  they want to go, and unites people in their effort in getting there. 

Roles 

Clear and synergistic roles and responsibilities are essential for employee success.  Everyone should have a clear picture of who is responsible for what and how people work  together to accomplish shared goals. 

2) Effective Management 

Have you ever worked for a great organization but also had a bad manager? If so, what was  your experience? I have asked thousands of employees and the responses are always  similar to the following statements: 

• It turned the work I enjoyed doing into something difficult 

• It made everything harder 

• It was challenging to stay motivated 

• It negatively impacted my personal life 

• And the most common answer is always – I left the organization. 

Companies spend countless dollars on facilities, equitable pay, and state-of-the-art  technology, but if an employee feels they have a bad manager, the employee will struggle  to stay productive and motivated.

The role of a leader is to demonstrate that effective management is a top priority for  individual and team success. The leader must “walk the talk” by demonstrating firsthand  what effective management looks like for their direct reports. For leaders to create a great  management culture, they must ensure managers have access to adequate training,  effective talent processes, and ongoing accountability for effective management. 

3) Lead Through Coaching 

Almost all leaders rise to leadership positions because of their ability to problem-solve and  get things done. Too often, when employees come to leaders with their routine challenges,  the leader will immediately jump into solving the problem for them. The strategic mindset  

shift for leaders is understanding that success in their role is no longer to be the chief  problem-solver. 

Success as a leader is all about empowering others, developing employees, and building  trust for ongoing team success. The primary tool to accomplish this mindset shift is  Coaching. A simple and practical framework for coaching is Sir John Whitmore’s GROW  model. GROW is an acronym that helps guide leaders to coach others towards resolving  challenges or issues.

The GROW Coaching Model by Sir John Whitmore 

Asking questions does not stop leaders from sharing their experience, insight, or  direction. Leading with questions allows leaders to understand the employee’s  perspectives before choosing what input is needed. Shifting from leading through telling to  leading through coaching helps create an environment where employees feel valued,  empowered, and motivated. 

4) Invest In Healthy Team Relationships 

The natural tendency during challenging times is for employees to put their heads down  and push through it. Focusing only on deadlines and tasks might work for the short-term,  but eventually, this approach will deteriorate a team’s social bonds. I like the way Shawn  Achor summed it up in his book Happiness Advantage:

The greatest predictor of a persons’ success and well-being is the strength of their social  support network. Countless studies have found that social relationships are the best  guarantee of heightened well-being and lowered stress, both an antidote for depression  and a prescription for high performance. 

One of the most important aspects of being an effective leader is establishing a team  environment where team members feel valued, included, and heard. Below are ways that  leaders can support their team members in building strong relationships. 

• Acknowledge successes by taking time to celebrate wins 

• Express gratitude by regularly acknowledging other’s efforts and successes • Emphasize team collaboration and address issues immediately 

• Create space for fun and laughter 

• Meeting agendas and problem-solving processes that allow everyone to have a  voice 

Leadership is primarily about building a work environment that delivers strong results  and where employees feel valued. Inevitably, employees will sometimes leave for better  situations, but demonstrating these 4 Leadership Practices Make Employees Want To  Stay.