Ask the Headhunter/ General Management

Give Your Team Some High ROI Gifts


by Nick Corcodilos
Contributing Writer

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The good news: A new year is about to start, and a healthier economy promises new opportunities. The bad news: You’re likely to lose some of your best employees. Pent-up desire for new challenges—and pent-up frustrations with quality of work life—is probably going to cost you. Unless you start doing something now to avoid a brain drain.

To borrow a Christmas Carol phrase from Charles Dickens, at this time of year it is customary to provide. . .tips about how to avoid a lousy first quarter. One of the best I’ve seen is from Fortune magazine: “5 Ways To Keep Employees Excited: Get them invested in your firm, then eliminate bad bosses and red tape.”

Here’s my version, using Fortune’s subtitles, but restated and renumbered to reflect my priorities:

Grow Better Bosses.
Fortune columnist Verne Harnish says 65 percent of workers would take a new boss over a raise. Are you shocked? Smart CMOs realize that underperforming teams may have problem bosses. Before you start firing, start re-educating your team leaders, or end up losing your teams.

My suggestion: Gather your management team in a Coaching War Room and have them list what they do to mentor their teams. Then lock them in the room for two hours with the challenge to come up with five good methods they can all use to help their teams get the work done. You’ll be impressed with how much they learn from one another. Before you lock them up, provide the information you gather from my next suggestion.

Give Them A Voice And Clear The Roadblocks.
Two of the “ways” are really one. Unless your marketing operation is perfect, something is broken. Who better to ask what needs fixing than your staffers? You know it’s the right thing to do, but you probably haven’t had time to implement this luxury communication channel. Do it before Christmas.

My suggestion: Don’t turn this into a delegated project. Send a personal e-mail asking for your team members’ frank comments. Let them help you eliminate obstacles to getting the job done in 2013. Then you can help your management team while they’re locked up for two hours (see above suggestion).

Take A Break From Austerity.
Blow a few bucks and do something fun with your team. Taking them on a short junket won’t hurt your bottom line much more than the economy has already hurt it—and the ROI will probably be higher than the ROI from getting your team to write up yet another useless “projection.” Do something to make them “excited to come to work each day.”

My suggestion: Book a weekend trip for the entire operation if you can afford it. Or book a local comedy club for dinner and a show. The point is, get them out of their work surroundings on your dime. But try your best to do the trip. Make it part of your culture.

Make Their Dreams Real.
Harnish tells about a company that fulfills one wish from each employee. I’ll save you some trouble and help you learn a lot about your employees with little effort or cost.

My suggestion: Ask each employee to submit a plan for something they want to do in 2013 that will make them better people. Then contribute as much cash as you can afford to “make their dreams real.” Or you could pay to run another bunch of job postings on CareerBuilder.

What “gifts” are you giving your employees this year? Come tell us about your ROI on the Discussion Forum.

About Nick Corcodilos

Nick Corcodilos writes "Ask The Headhunter," a weekly blog on in which he shows you how to tackle the daunting obstacles that job hunters and managers face when trying to work together. From time to time, Corcodilos also will provide feature stories offering insights into various management career strategies. In addition, his newest books, Fearless Job Hunting, Keep Your Salary Under Wraps, How to Work with Headhunters and How Can I Change Careers?, are available as PDFs. Ask The Headhunter® is a registered trademark of Nick Corcodilos.