A CEO’s Quest for a Better Selection ProcessEditor’s Note: The author began her career as a CEO in the construction industry, which has an average voluntary turnover of seventy-five percent. Frustrated by the millions of dollars of profit lost to the revolving door of turnover, she began keeping metrics on her own one hundred employees, using them as her original testing lab, and eventually researching thousands of employees all over the world. Seeking answers to questions like ‘What makes one employee stay and one quit?’ and ‘What is the delineating factor between engaged and unengaged employees,’ she created a classification system on how employees operate, what motivates them, how they best receive feedback, and most importantly how to keep them happily employed. She saw her own company’s turnover plummet to less than one percent without providing more than industry standard compensation and without offering overly generous benefits. In this article, she offers the results of her intensive study.
There are countless personality tests on the market today with one thing in common. They are based on learned behaviors…not instinct. Communication is a learned skill, something that our parents and teachers taught us. Connection is an instinct you were born with. When you were little, no one taught you how to play or how to get your mom’s attention. You came into this world knowing how to connect, and just like other traits that have been trained out of us. We’ve forgotten how to use this most basic instinct.
If you want to attract and retain talent, you have to motivate, reward, reprimand and train the way that the employee best operates. Teams are comprised of people first, so you must address the people before you address the team.
There are four proclivity types: Players, Lighters, Artists, Y’ers. You might notice the acronym is PLAY. Each type uses different language patterns and words, they have different thought environmental functioning processes; they also respond to different incentives, different reprimands, and require vastly different support in meetings, instruction, training, and motivation.
Players use words that are verbs and tangibly based such as ‘solid,’ ‘do,’ and ‘work.’ In meetings they need to be able to move, fidget, take notes, or stand in the back of the room, or they are physically incapable of processing the information. If they stop moving, they stop listening.
Lighters use words that are based on visual acuity such as ‘see,’ ‘color,’ and ‘picture.’ They have to see it to believe it. Therefore, in meetings they need colorful handouts or Power Point or they only retain about ten percent of the information disseminated. So telling a Lighter to complete a task without providing a visual representation will only lead to an incomplete assignment and a frustrated employee who wants to be appreciated.
Artists use words that are based on sound based such as ‘hear,’ ‘silence,’ and ‘resonate.’ In meetings they need background noise, whether it’s white noise or music piped softly through the building. If it’s too quiet, it drains their energy and their focus. Additionally, if the meeting presenter is monotone, artists are physically incapable of listening to the information presented. Many Artists have shared that an unappealing tonality sounds like a ‘buzzing’ in their ears making hearing the actual words nearly impossible.
Y’ers have the unique ability to flow between the other proclivity languages seamlessly and still have their own language go-to words such as ‘motivate,’ ‘think,’ and ‘process.’ In meetings they need the freedom to ask questions. These are the people in meetings that have a lot to say and a lot of questions. If they are unable to question the process or the reason for it, they will have a difficult time both understanding the tasks and executing the plan.
The way to motivate, train, reprimand and reward are also proclivity based. What is effective for one employee will not work for the other one. The word choices that are used and the environmental support if done correctly completely engage the employee and instinctually incentivize them to produce the desired outcome. This doesn’t mean that companies have to take each one of their thousand employees by the hand, but knowing an employee’s proclivity gives human resource professionals a playbook for what works to motivate, reward, reprimand and train each type.
Additionally, knowing the employees’ proclivity gives leadership the edge it needs to put together highly productive, result driven, teams. In Steve Shapiro’s book, Best Practices Are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition, he shares the research of Lee Fleming, a professor at Harvard Business School, who analyzed seventeen thousand patents and found that teams of people with similar backgrounds had fewer breakthroughs while people with different backgrounds had more successes. Different proclivity types on the same team create masterful results.
The beauty of proclivity-based retention for companies is that it creates higher profit margins by creating a culture of engaged, productive employees. Higher profit margins are a win-win for everyone. Millennials are not motivated by the same drivers that other generations were. They are well informed and often know how to beat personality tests. Finding a way to connect with employees on an instinctual level means staying ahead of the competition; According to The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It’s Too Late by Leigh Branham, eighty-eight percent of employees resign from companies because of factors within the company such as communication, management, and culture. Gallup supports this finding with their own statistic of over eighty-tow percent of people leaving for reasons outside of compensation.
People don’t leave jobs, people leave people. Your people want to feel appreciated and part of a bigger picture, connecting with them on an instinctual level is one way you can do just that.
Seanlai is CEO of The Retention Experts http://theretentionexperts.com. She is the founder of Proclivities: Science of Connection and her new book, a business parable, The Mysterious Power will be available in the second quarter of 2016. Connect directly with Seanlai via twitter https://twitter.com/SeanlaiC