As I celebrate 10 years of living and working here in Romania, I can also reflect on how certain aspects of Romanian business practices have changed in that time including the attitude and perception of Basic People Management.
When I first arrived and dared to mention “succession planning” to clients I received this horrified and, somewhat aggressive look and quickly, yet disappointingly realized that many managers were protecting their jobs from the up and coming talent within their respective teams and organisations to such an extreme that their relationships with these very same people under their assumed leadership and guidance was dramatically poor.
Historically, Romania has been a more task-orientated work nation with high emphasis on the manager being the ultimate decision maker whether they make the right or wrong ones but in recent times the influx of international corporation culture has, fortunately, diminished this assumed power and is rightly encouraging managers to be more mentors than the old fashioned boss.
As a consultant on office design and employee motivation through my great experiences with Corporate Office Solutions (COS) there is a wave of trendy passion these last couple of years to satisfying the ever-more-demanding needs of the, now infamous, millennials in the workplace with many organisations installing every kind of “play thing” to provide the alleged motivation for young people to stay in the company for longer than a few months.
In my recent career in the real estate market with Avison Young, this need is further exaggerated with the listed priorities given by prospective tenants as including proximity to a metro, near to a shopping mall, eco-friendly environment etc. all in pursuit of desperately hanging on to their talent and expertise and attracting new blood in the current low unemployment, employee dominant business market.
Well, my friends, I hate to be the grim reaper here but a poor attrition rate is only partly improved through providing ill-planned adult play-areas within the office where your people go from adult mode to child mode and then are reluctant to move again into adult mode when the proverbial school bell rings to go back to class resulting in a substantial loss in productivity and little stimulus to a young mind.
There can be many natural and, indeed, logical reasons why a young professional wants to leave their employer including an enhanced career move, personal circumstances etc. but the number one reason that people leave due to discontentment or demotivation is simply because of their manager!
A recent study by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman came up with this unsurprising conclusion that, if you’re losing good people, look to their immediate supervisor. More than any other reason he/she is the reason people stay and thrive within an organization and he/she is the reason they quit, taking their knowledge, experience and contacts with them, often, straight to the competition.
Buckingham and Coffman emphasise “People leave Managers, not companies, so much money has been thrown at the challenge of keeping good people in the form of better pay, better perks, nicer office, better training when, in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue”.
So, if you have a problem with your people turnover in your company, look at your managers and supervisors as up to a point, an employee’s primary need has less to do with money, and more to do with how he/she is treated and how valuable he/she feels. Much of this directly falls at the responsibility of the immediate manager.
Don’t assume that just because somebody is a high performing star in the company that they will naturally make a good manager (The Diego Maradona syndrome as I like to call it) and take the time and investment to make them leaders and mentors and, in fact, don’t call them managers at all as that is half the problem!
My final tip for you is when one of your team next approaches you with a “what shall I do?” or “what do you think?”, don’t answer but simply throw the question straight back at them “what do YOU think?” because they probably know the answer, they just need you to encourage them to take responsibility and leadership in what they are skilled in doing.
Decisions shouldn’t be difficult in life and as my old dear boss used to use the above technique on me and explain, “Colin, if it makes sense, it’s probably the right thing to do so go ahead and just do it.”
See you all in May!
Colin Lovering is senior vice-president of Avison Young Romania and Chairman of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.