What we can learn from relationships that helps us retain employees
Gray has a book, Mars and Venus on a Date which basically is a guide to navigating the 5 stages of dating to create lasting relationships.
If you bare with me, you will see how this can relate to relationships with employees that are looking for the perfect job. Particularly essential reading for small business owners.
In the book, it explains how a 47 year old man, never married, but has dated hundreds of women describes special women that he has met in his life.
"Sarah was wonderful; she was bubbly and energetic, everything that I am not. I like how I feel around her. We almost got married, but she didn't want to move and I didn't want to move.
Carol always loved me just the way I was. She loved being with me and we had a great time together. She was really so wonderful, I really couldn't ask for more, except that she wasn't bubbly and energetic like Sarah.
Mary was the most beautiful woman I have ever met. She was smart and successful, and I always felt proud when I was with her in public. I thought about marrying her, but she wasn't as accepting as Carol was. Carol liked everything about me. With Mary I felt I had to stay on my toes. I liked that feeling, but I don't think I could live my life like that."
The 47 year old guy was always comparing because he was looking for perfection. He wanted all he could get. Besides not knowing that his soulmate is not perfect, he was never seeing one girl at the one time exclusively, even though in his mind he was. He didn't give his mind the chance to open up to just one woman and there was always a backup woman who was happy to take him in. In the book, it outlines how his childhood experiences aggravated his tendency and failure to meet a woman and find a soul mate.
Now, how does this relate to employees.
Employees start out wide eyed and bushy tailed. They start their first job and work there for a period of time until something better comes up. Then they go to the next job, until something else comes up. Then the next and then the next in search of the perfect job; position, company, brand, remuneration. But the perfect job does not exist.
As in the book, "he looks back at many of the women he has loved and feels that four or five would have been perfect if only they were a little different."
There are some jobs that they glorify that were in their past like working for a big bank. They say, "it was perfect, great training, fun social club, 9 to 5." Yet, there was something wrong with it. It wasn't perfect.
So how does this relate to your small business?
Simple. If you get to know your employees better in the interview stages and ask them about themselves. Get them to share their life story with you, you could relate it back to this book. If they are looking for the perfect job, you will know what you are dealing with. In the book it says that were this guy went wrong is that he missed a few steps in the dating game. For instance, he may have dated a girl and all of a sudden he asks her to move in. The stages in the book outline; stage one: attraction, stage two: uncertainty, stage three: exclusivity, stage four: intimacy, stage five: engagement. So, if you slow down the steps and their expectation in the start and walk them through the stages of employment and explain that at first they are attracted to the job, then when they are in the throws of the job, they may feel some uncertainty. This may be around whether they can do the job, if the job is actually for them, can they handle long hours, do they like the people they work with and so on. Provide couselling or coaching at this stage so that they actually appreciate that this is part of the journey in the job and walk them through it in a communicative way, you may find that they go to the next step of exclusivity rather than lose them to a headhunter or have them look for what else is out there.
When they are exclusively in the job, provide training so that they better themselves and that they don't become complacent and bored. Look at how they can attribute to keeping their own jobs interesting. Then they will be ready to tackle the next stage of intimacy. Knowing the job, being content and letting themselves and their creativity or talents go in the job to really make an impact.
Last stage is engagement. They are ready to take the next step and stay with your small business for the long-haul. They see a future in it and are ready to be married into your brand.
It's amazing what you can get from books about relationships that are probably selling so well because there is something in them for everyone.
* Note: All quotes belong to Mars and Venus on a Date author John Gray, Ph.D. Many thanks for your wisdom on relationships.