Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

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Retaining top talent and making sure employees feel engaged and appreciated is a perennial concern for every business. With over 710,000 copies sold globally, comes the fifth edition of this bestselling book by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans.
Since employees who walk out the door cost their companies up to 200 percent of their annual salaries to replace, retention is one of the most important issues facing businesses today. And with so many surveys reporting that employees are unhappy and not working up to their full potential, engagement is a second serious and costly issue.
The latest edition of this Wall Street Journal bestseller offers twenty-six simple strategies—from A to Z—that managers can use to address their employees' real concerns and keep them engaged. The fifth edition has been revised and updated throughout and includes many more international examples, reflecting the fact that Love 'Em or Lose 'Em is available in twenty-two languages, from Albanian and Arabic to Thai and Turkish. Its message is truly one that spans continents and cultures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609948863
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 01/06/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 537,998
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Beverly Kaye is founder and Chairwoman of Career Systems International. She is a recipient of ASTD’s Distinguished Contribution to Workplace Learning and Performance Award and is the author of Up Is Not the Only Way.
Sharon Jordan-Evans is president of the Jordan Evans Group and is a sought-after keynote presenter and a certified executive coach.Kaye and Jordan-Evans are the coauthors of Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work.

Read an Excerpt

Love 'Em or Lose 'Em



Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60994-886-3




Ponder this: Do you know what they really want?

When do you think most leaders ask questions like "What can I do to keep you?" You're right: it's in the exit interview. At that point it's typically too late.

The talented employee already has one foot out the door!

Have you ever wondered why we ask great questions in exit interviews but neglect to ask early enough to make a difference? Love 'em leaders do ask. They ask early and often, they listen carefully to the answers, and they link arms with their talent to help them get more of what they want, right where they are.

Conduct Stay Interviews

A crucial strategy for engaging and retaining talent is having conversations with every person you hope will stay on your team. We coined the term stay interview to describe those chats. If you hold stay interviews, you'll have less regrettable turnover and fewer exit interviews!

When we suggest asking employees why they stay or what would keep them, we hear, "You've got to be kidding," "Isn't that illegal?" or "What if they give me an answer I don't want to hear?" Managers dance around this core subject usually for one of three reasons:

• Some managers fear putting people on the spot or putting ideas into their heads (as if they never thought about leaving on their own).

• Some managers are afraid they will be unable to do anything anyway, so why ask? They fear that the question will raise more dust than they can settle and may cause employees to expect answers and solutions that are out of the managers' hands.

• Some managers say they don't have the time to have these critical one-on-one discussions with their talented people. There is an urgency to produce, leaving little time to listen, let alone ask. (If you don't have time for these discussions with the people who contribute to your success, where will you find the time to interview, select, orient, and train their replacements?)

Guessing Is Risky

What if you don't ask? What if you just keep trying to guess what Tara or Mike or Akina really wants? You will guess right sometimes. The year-end bonus might please them all. Money can inspire loyalty and commitment for the near term. But if the key to retaining Tara is to give her a chance to learn something new, whereas Mike wants to telecommute, how could you ever guess that? Ask—so you don't have to guess.

Asking has positive side effects. The person you ask will feel cared about, valued, and important. Many times asking leads to stronger loyalty and commitment to you and the organization. In other words, just asking the question is an effective engagement and retention strategy.

How to Ask

How and when do you bring up this topic? How can you increase the odds of getting honest input from your employees? There is no single way or time to ask. It could happen during a developmental or career discussion with your employees. (You do hold those, don't you?) Or you might schedule a meeting with your valued employees for the express purpose of finding out what will keep them. One manager sent the following invitation to give his key people some time to think and to prepare for the conversation:

Regardless of when you start this dialogue, remember to set the context by telling your employees how critical they are to you and your team and how important it is to you that they stay. Then find out what will keep them. Listen carefully to their responses.

He Dared to Ask

Charlie set up a meeting with his plant manager, Ken, for Monday morning. After some brief conversation about the weekend activities, Charlie said, "Ken, you are critical to me and to this organization. I'm not sure I've told you that directly or often enough. But you are. I can't imagine losing you. So, I'd like to know what will keep you here. And what might entice you away?"

Ken was a bit taken aback—but felt flattered. He thought for a moment and then said, "You know, I aspire to move up in the organization at some point, and I'd love to have some exposure to the senior team. I'd like to see how they operate, and frankly I'd like them to get to know me, too." Charlie responded, "I could take you with me to some senior staff meetings. Would that be a start?" Ken said, "That would be great."

Charlie delivered on Ken's request one week later.

What If

What If You Can't Give What They Want?

Most managers don't ask because they fear one of two responses: a request for a raise or a promotion. They might not be able to deliver on those kinds of requests. Then what?

Next time a talented employee asks for something you think you might not be able to give, respond by using these four steps:

1. Restate how much you value them.

2. Tell the truth about the obstacles you face in granting their requests.

3. Show you care enough to look into their requests and to stand up for them.

4. Ask, "What else?"

Here's how the discussion between Charlie and Ken could have gone if Ken had asked for a raise.

Following Charlie's question about what will keep him, Ken replied immediately, "A 20 percent raise will do it!" Now, some managers will say things like "Are you kidding? You're already at the top of your pay range." That response shuts down the dialogue and makes a key employee feel less than key. Charlie was ready for this possibility, though. Here is how he could have responded to Ken's request for a raise, using the four-step process.

1. "You are worth that and more to me.

2. I'd love to say yes, but I will need to investigate the possibility. I'm honestly not sure what I can do immediately, given some recent budget cuts.

3. But I hear your request. I'll run this up the flag pole and get back to you by next Friday with some answers and a possible time line for a raise.

4. Meanwhile, Ken, what else matters to you? What else are you hoping for?"

Ken might have responded with his interest in getting to know the senior team— and Charlie was ready to act on that one immediately.

Research shows clearly that people want more from work than just a paycheck. When you ask the question "What else?" we guarantee there will be at least one thing your talented employee wants that you can give. Remember to listen actively as your employees talk about what will keep them on your team or in your organization.

What If You Ask What They Want and They Say, "I Don't know?"

Remember that this is not an interrogation—it's a conversation, and hopefully one in an ongoing series of conversations. It's okay not to know. Some people will be surprised by your questioning and need some time to think about it. Let them think, schedule another meeting, and set the stage for an ongoing dialogue about your employees' wants, needs, and career goals. Engaging and keeping your talent is a process, not an event.

What If They Don't Trust You Enough to Answer Honestly?

Discussions like these build trust. Ironically, discussions like these require trust. If your employees are afraid to answer your questions for any reason, you may need to build a trusting relationship with them before you can expect honest, heartfelt responses. Try to discover why trust is missing in the relationship, and purposely act in trust-building ways. Seek help from colleagues, human resource professionals, or coaches.

What If They Question Your Motivation or Smile and Say, "What Book Have You Just Read?"

Be honest. If you're not in the habit of having dialogues like these, it could feel strange—for you and perhaps for them. Tell them you did read a book or attend a course about engaging talent, and you did it because they matter to you. Tell them you honestly want to hear their answers and you want to partner with them to help them get what they want and need. You might even choose to admit that the love 'em approach sometimes feels awkward, even uncomfortable (like a new pair of shoes). That "name it to claim it," forthright action can be just what's needed to build trust with the talent you hope will stay and play on your team.

To Do

* Ask each employee what will keep him or her at your company or your department.

* Make a note in your computer or smartphone for every employee's answer.

* Every month, review the notes and ask yourself what you've done for that employee that relates to his or her needs.

Why Most Say They Stay

We've asked over 18,000 people why they stayed in an organization for "a while" (yes, it's a relative term). Our findings confirm what many others (e.g., Blessing White, Gallup, Towers Watson, Sirota) have learned about the most common reasons employees remain at a company (and what will help retain them). The items recur throughout every industry and at every level. The differences between functions, levels, genders, geographic regions, and ages are minor. Here are the top 13 responses listed in order of frequency of response as of November 2013.

1. Exciting, challenging, or meaningful work

2. Supportive management/good boss

3. Being recognized, valued, and respected

4. Career growth, learning, and development

5. Flexible work environment

6. Fair pay

7. Job location

8. Job security and stability

9. Pride in the organization, its mission or product

10. Working with great coworkers or clients

11. Fun, enjoyable work environment

12. Good benefits

13. Loyalty and commitment to coworkers or boss

How do your employees' answers compare with the list? Find out what truly matters to them by asking. Then create customized, innovative approaches to retaining your talent.

By the way, if you'd like to see the complete "What Kept You" survey data, including updated findings and multiple demographic breakdowns, go to our website, and click on the "What Kept You" link.

A Word about Pay

Some of you immediately noticed the fact that fair pay lands in seventh place on this list. Here is what we know about pay. If employees see compensation as noncompetitive, unfair, or simply insufficient to sustain life, their dissatisfaction levels will go up. Your talented people will become vulnerable to talent theft or will begin looking around for something better, especially in a favorable job market. But here's the rub. While it can be a huge dissatisfier if inadequate, even fair pay won't keep people who are unhappy in other key areas.

So if your talented people do not feel challenged, or grown, or cared about, a big paycheck will not keep them for long. Researchers over time have found this to be true. Frederic Herzberg found in the 1950s that pay is a "hygiene factor"—make sure it's there or it will be noticed!1 So, do what you can as a manager to influence your organization's compensation programs. Be sure they are competitive and fair—then focus on what else you can do to keep your talent.

A Word About Culture

How do cultural differences play out in this crucial, foundational engagement strategy—the stay interview? We asked colleagues, book reviewers, and clients around the globe and here is what we heard.

• The majority said, "It will work here just as well as in the United States."

• One colleague said, "Barriers to 'asking' in Asia are magnified because the culture demands respect for elders and leaders. Even if asked, most employees do not feel free to share issues that may reflect negatively on their boss."

• A Chinese proverb reads, "A man of honor will feel ashamed by a single question to which he does not know the answer."

• A consultant reported, "In more hierarchical cultures like that of Japan and Korea, asking questions is not traditionally encouraged. If the boss were to say, 'What do you think?' the subordinate would say, 'Yes.'"

If you manage others in a culture where asking is not accepted or recommended, you'll need to find a work-around. Some managers have used anonymous surveys or tasked someone else with the "asking." However you seek to learn about what your talented employees really want, it is crucial that you do gain that information.

To Do

* Look back at the list of reasons people stay and ask yourself which of these you can influence.

* Check all those that you believe are largely within your control. If our hunch is correct, you will find that you can influence many more than you may have thought.

Beyond "Why Did You Stay?"

For a decade now, we've collected managers' favorite stay interview questions. Here are the top 13.

Stay Interview Questions

1. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning?

2. What makes you hit the snooze button?

3. If you were to win the lottery and resign, what would you miss the most about your job?

4. What one change in your current role would make you consider leaving this job?

5. If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about this department, team, organization?

6. As your manager, what could I do a little more of or a little less of?

7. If you had to go back to a position in your past and stay for an extended period of time, which one would it be and why?

8. What do you need to learn to work at your best?

9. What makes for a great day?

10. What can we do to make your job more satisfying?

11. What can we do to support your career goals?

12. Do you get enough recognition? How do you like to be recognized?

13. What do you want to learn this year?

Let these ideas serve as catalysts for your own thinking. Create a list of your favorite questions. Ask them of your talented people. And ask again, listen carefully, and customize your retention efforts.

Bottom Line

Stop guessing what will keep your stars happy and on your team. Gather your courage and conduct stay interviews with the employees you want to keep. Set aside time to start the dialogue. Don't guess and don't assume they all want the same thing (like pay or promotion). Schedule another meeting if they need to think about it for a while.

To simply ask may be the most important strategy in this book. Not only will asking make your talented people feel valued, but their answers will provide the information you need to customize strategies to keep each of them.

It doesn't matter so much where, when, or how you ask—just ASK!




Ponder this: Who's really in charge of engaging and retaining your best people?

This sign was on President Truman's White House office desk, and Truman popularized the now-familiar phrase. Every culture has its way of saying do not pass the buck. In Chinese it goes like this, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and it translates to "No shirking of responsibility."

When we ask supervisors and managers how to keep good people, many immediately respond, "With money." Research suggests that a majority of managers truly believe it's largely about the money. These managers place the responsibility for keeping key people squarely in the hands of senior management. They blame organizational policies or pay scales for the loss of talent. Or they point the finger at the competition or the location. It's always someone else's fault.

Well, the truth is, you matter most. If you are a manager at any level, a front-line supervisor, or a project leader, you actually have more power than anyone else to keep your best employees. Why? Because the factors that drive employee satisfaction, engagement, and commitment are largely within your control. And the factors that satisfy and engage employees are the ones that keep them on your team. Those factors haven't changed much over the past 25 years. Many researchers who have studied retention agree on what engages or satisfies people and therefore influences them to stay: meaningful and challenging work, a chance to learn and grow, fair and competitive compensation, great coworkers, recognition, respect, and a good boss. Don't you want those things?

Excerpted from Love 'Em or Lose 'Em by BEVERLY KAYE, SHARON JORDAN-EVANS. Copyright © 2014 Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to Read This Book
1 ASK What Keeps You?--Do you know what they want?
2 BUCK It Stops Here--Who's in charge of keeping them?
3 CAREERS Support Growth--Are you building their future or are you in the way?
4 DIGNITY Show Respect--Do they know that you respect them?
5 ENRICH Energize the Job--Do your people have to leave to find growth and challenge?
6 FAMILY Get Friendly--Avoid making your employees choose between work and family life.
7 GOALS Expand Options--There are five career paths other than up.
8 HIRE Fit Is It--Make a match or start from scratch.
9 INFORMATION Share It--Do you have it? Do you hoard it?
10 JERK Don't Be One--Are you one?
11 KICKS Get Some--Are we having fun yet?
12 LINK Create Connections--If you build them, they will stay.
13 MENTOR Be One--Are they learning from you?
14 NUMBERS Run Them--Calculate the cost of loss.
15 OPPORTUNITIES Mine Them--Will they find them inside or outside?
16 PASSION Encourage It--Help them find the work they love—without leaving.
17 QUESTION Reconsider the Rules--Which will you keep: the rules or the people?
18 REWARD Provide Recognition--Which matters more: praise or pay?
19 SPACE Give It--Are your people on a short leash?
20 TRUTH Tell It--The truth hurts—or does it?
21 UNDERSTAND Listen Deeper--When you tune out, you lose out—and they move out.
22 VALUES Define and Align--What matters most to them?
23 WELLNES Sustain It--Are they sick or tired?
24 X-ERS AND OTHERS Handle with Care--They are different. Can you keep them?
25 YIELD Power Down--Give it up to keep them.
26 ZENITH Go for It--Sustain your commitment to engagement.
Calling all Managers of Managers
About the Authors

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Love 'em or Lose 'em 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
StrategicLearner More than 1 year ago
Yeah … another book about engaging and retaining good employees.  You’d think we would be past needing this information by now, but anyone who works in or with organizations to help them create employee engagement will tell you we are not there yet. However, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans may just move us over that goal line, IF you read it and use it as the authors have designed it to be used. Here’s what I liked most about this book: 1)      Neatly organized to help us hone in on our greatest development needs … After brief introductory remarks, you self-assess your employee interaction behaviors with numerical values in twenty-six areas related to an alphabetical list of chapters.  Then you receive a general overview of what your aggregate scores means.  Nothing really new here, but good information. The real value is when you are directed to go to the page which corresponds with your lowest scores.  Mine was “E ~ think employees should tell you if they are not feeling challenged in their work?”   I rated this one as a “1” which means “Always/Definitely Yes”. In my own defense, I was thinking about encouraging employees to speak up for themselves by creating a safe space. I then visited chapter five ~ “Enrich:  Energize the Job” and received a short, but intensively well-organized and useful discussion of “job enrichment”, which I vaguely remembered from my human resources days.   I wish my master’s textbooks had been written in such clear and helpful language, with down-to-earth advice on how to make jobs more interesting and engaging. 2)      Based on solid, deep, and broad research … I am one of those people who usually turn to the index before I read anything in a book, looking for familiar terms and names.  I expect to see certain citations and topics in the organization of the book.  You get some sense of the sources from chapter headings in many books, although not this one. I was pleasantly surprised to see a large amount of research cited from leadership, management, human behavior, and popular culture.  The background materials upon which the authors base this book are broad and they go deep.  This is solid stuff, rather than the “flavor of the month” type of books which too often predominate leadership and management titles. 3)      I like the authors … The authors are long-time and well-equipped contributors to our knowledge about how to lead and manage more effectively.    True Confession time … I did not read any of the four previous versions of this book.  However, I have read, enjoyed, and shared other books co-authored by each of these folks.  So I cannot compare this fifth edition to those earlier ones … I don’t need to, because it stands quite nicely on its own feet. Bottom Line … Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans is clear, easy to read, and attractively designed.  You don’t even notice how well-constructed it is or the richness of the underlying research. Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans is the bestselling guide that provides twenty-six strategies to keep talented employees happy and productive. In addition to updating and revising all information for the fifth edition, the authors have included more international stories and statistics. Available January 2014 on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere! Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review in conjunction with their launch.
RaggedyJaney More than 1 year ago
Love ‘em or Lose ‘em: Getting Good People to Stay / 26 Engagement Strategies for Busy Managers by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans Love ‘em or Lose ‘em. Catchy title, right? But that’s not what caught my attention; it was the allure of the sub-title, Getting Good People to Stay.  As a basically satisfied employee who has left a number of jobs over my 30+ career years, I thought it would be interesting to explore reasons for my defections from seemingly fulfilling positions.  That was my intent, but I was rewarded with a deeper level of insight than expected cemented with memorable key factors. Since the book is predicated on 26 strategies, it makes sense that the authors use alliteration to represent each of the strategies. From A – Ask to Z – Zenith, each chapter describes the context of the strategy, tells a story explaining how this strategy was used, then follows up with a simple, short action items list and a bottom line summary.  The authors use a unique treatment of topic mapping that give veritable memory reinforcements throughout the book in an easy to follow, and fun to read style.  Here’s one of my favorites. The chapter L – Linking describes the purpose and value in creating connections. The premise is employees need to feel that they are connected within your organization through links to people, purpose, or profession. For each category, suggestions are made on how links are established and strengthened with a section on teaching them to link.  In the margin to the side of this section is an arrow labeled ‘Go to Mentor Page 120' that maps this topic to another chapter which further enhances this strategy of linking.    There’s an entire chapter devoted to the attitudes and behaviors of diverse age groups in the workforce. Appropriately named X – Xers and others: Handle with Care.  Each age group is discussed with commonalities often attributed to each, but with recognition that these are assumed generalizations.  Adding value and interest to the book are interspersed self-assessment questionnaires. One of my favorites: What is a Jerk? The reader is prompted to rate themselves on a scale of 0 to 5 on 50 behaviors such as: Humiliate and embarrass others, Interrupt constantly, Demand perfection,  and Steal credit or the spotlight from others. The Run the Numbers assessment asks the reader to state a dollar amount for the cost of replacing an employee. Among the costs listed are Ads, Referral Bonuses, Work put on hold until replacement is on board, Overload on team – including overtime during selection process, and that is only a few of the costs to replace a good employee.  Overall, this book Love ‘em or Lose ‘em: Getting Good People to Stay is an excellent resource to have in your toolbox as a manager of one person or 50. This statement early in the book seemed to be thematic “Engaging and keeping your talent is a process, not an event.”  I recommend this book as one to put into practice, not just use as an ornament on your bookshelf. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! I borrowed it from a co-worker and then decided to get my own copy. Although many of the solutions scream of common sense solutions, it is a sad reminder that there is nothing common about common sense! I suppose that sometimes it helps to see it in print.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago