Are you helping or hindering your team?

Aug 28, 2022

You can work to improve retention by promoting a positive culture, giving employees autonomy and empowerment, and actively showing appreciation.

In the time of the great resignation, what is it about company culture that can make or break an employee’s desire to stay? How do you as a manager inspire your team?

Employee-curated culture. It’s been said that there are people who see life as a pie, and if one person gets a bigger slice, they see it as less for the other people. And there are people who trust that they can just make or buy another pie. Put differently, there are people who see success as a limited resource and those who know there’s room for everyone to succeed.

Studies show that companies that encourage employees to compete, brag about cut-throat environments, and incentivize individualism over teamwork have more turnover. In fact, “When an employee’s success reflects poorly on his coworkers, then the work environment will likely grow tense and even hostile. The way leaders communicate about competition can make employees experience anxiety or excitement about competing.”

On the other hand, companies that promote creativity, open and honest communication, and teamwork see better results. Harvard Business Review reports that productivity and retention are both boosted by friendly company cultures.

The power of autonomy. In an article from Harvard Business Review, the authors write, “The more control employees feel over their own day-to-day, the happier they will be. Autonomy is a key driver of human motivation, performance, and fulfillment; in the context of hybrid working, it is also directly correlated to the amount of flexibility a given employee has access to in their work arrangement.”

The leadership at Colliers Engineering & Design have implemented an entrepreneurial style of business, and geographic and regional diversification, with the importance of autonomy in mind. Kevin Haney, president and CEO of Colliers Engineering & Design, has emphasized that the company’s growth means opportunity for employees. He understands that more services and more locations mean an employee has more power to redefine his/her role, location, and path. They can move to different parts of the country and work out of different offices, and there are more chances for promotion. “We’ve always been a firm that prioritized individuals having the power to create their own success, and that is now truer than ever.”

Do your employees feel appreciated? You may have heard the story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA during his presidency and meeting a janitor there. He asked the man what he did, and the man said he was helping to put a man on the moon – which was true. If NASA didn’t have a janitor, how could the scientists and engineers do their jobs? That janitor saw the bigger picture of what he was doing. But if the scientists treated him with disrespect and acted like he was lesser than the other people working different jobs in that building, he might not have had this attitude.

Does everyone on your team feel valued? Porschia Parker reports that “63 percent of people who are ‘always’ or ‘usually’ recognized at work consider themselves ‘very unlikely’ to seek a new job in the next three to six months.” Do you, as a manager, explicitly vocalize to each employee why you appreciate them? Do you give them positive feedback as well as constructive criticism? The Leadership Quarterly published a study showing that employees' brains light up in regions related to avoidance, narrowed attention, and negative emotions when they view leadership they think of as unempathetic. Colliers Engineering & Design’s Core Value Champ program, Accelerating Success Awards, employee newsletter features, and formalized means to share employee feedback through HR via kudos, and monetary rewards for work anniversaries and referrals are all established ways the firm shows appreciation for employees, but managers are also encouraged through our performance review process to routinely and directly point out the good work their employees do.

Information is power. Do you know what your employees are unhappy about and why? Research suggests that employees who feel like their concerns are taken seriously and that their input is valued, are more likely to stay loyal to their company. Companies can use this information to help them make decisions, decide procedures, and address the concerns their employees may have.

For the past eight years, Colliers Engineering & Design has been honored to be recognized in Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For awards. The ranking for this award is determined by information gathered through an employer questionnaire and a confidential employee survey. The information collected through the survey as well as the Glint survey issued by CED’s parent company enables leadership to focus efforts and resources on continually improving the firm in ways employees appreciate the most, supporting their desire to be recognized as a Best Firm To Work For. There are also regional surveys, which enable companies to see region-specific feedback, and how they compare with their competitors in that area.

You can work to improve retention by promoting a positive culture, giving employees autonomy and empowerment, actively showing appreciation, and asking them directly what their thoughts are. So, as a manager, how are you affecting your team? 

Alexis Eades is a communications specialist for Colliers Engineering & Design. A graduate of Rutgers University, she has a passion for writing, learning, and traveling. You can read more from her here.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.