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As the unemployment rate in the US continues to hover around 4 percent, finding and keeping quality employees is becoming more difficult. However, it is not impossible.

To retain great employees, it is imperative to first be a great leader. Studies show that an employee’s relationship with their supervisor can significantly influence their commitment to their job.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership, there are a few leadership qualities that, in my experience, tend to keep great employees around longer. Whether you are new to a managerial role or a more experienced leader hoping to polish your skills, here’s my best advice for inspiring loyalty among your team members:

1. Honor Your Commitments

Keep the promises you make to your employees. If you’ve offered new skills training, growth opportunities, mentorship, or one-on-one time, you have to follow through. Prove to your employees that you are dedicated to setting them up for success.

2. Welcome Failure

Create an environment where employees of all levels understand that mistakes happen and there is no shame or punishment in owning up to them. Leaders should step up when things don’t go as planned. Rather than avoiding the issue or placing blame, use mistakes as teachable moments. Have collective discussions about what could be done differently for next time.

3. Take an Interest

Every member of your workforce has their own distinct personality and work style that deserves attention. Take the time to get to know your employees as individuals by organizing outings outside the office. Your employees feel more valued when you take an interest in them, and you learn new things about them that will help you better leverage their individual skills.

4. Never Stop Learning

The best leaders are humble. They know there is always something new to learn, regardless of your level. I still take the time to attend new seminars and join new industry organizations. Doing so demonstrates the importance of continued education to my team, and it may inspire others to consider similar opportunities.

5. Lead by Example

Show employees that you can talk the talk and walk the walk. When you ask employees to learn a new skill or tackle a new assignment, roll up your sleeves and pitch in. When employees see that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, you will earn more credibility as a leader.

6. Foster Ongoing Communication

Encourage regular feedback from the top down and bottom up by implementing a goal-oriented review process. This will help employees better understand their opportunities for growth, and it will help managers determine whether employees are satisfied with their career progression. Rewarding employees when they hit their goals will further incentivize your team’s professional development.

7. Be Community-Oriented

Give back to your broader community and create opportunities for your employees to participate in these efforts as a team. Your passion about doing good can be contagious, and you may find your corporate volunteer outing to be a valuable team- and loyalty-building exercise.

8. Don’t Neglect Top Performers

You may be inclined to focus your efforts on managing new employees or employees who are struggling, but you can’t forget to give attention to your strongest employees as well. They will need your support to rise to the challenge of being the future leaders of your company.

Throughout my career, I’ve made many mistakes — but those mistakes have shaped me into the leader I am today. My experiences and employees have shown me the importance of listening to my team, being committed to each individual, and continuing my education. This has in turn created a culture of kindness, integrity, and hard work.

If you capture the above seven elements in your leadership approach, you, too, will have a team that is happy, loyal and willing to play a role in the future of your business.

Lisa Richards is senior regional vice president for specialty recruitment firms Ajilon and Accounting Principals.



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