Daniel Robin & Associates
Making Workplaces Work Better
Leigh Branham, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It's Too Late, 238 pages, hardcover, AMACOM (2005). Synopsis: Although the title is about employee turnover, the purpose of this book is to help hire, engage and retain top talent. It always amazes me how widely disparate the perceptions of managment and the reality of the true causes of employee turnover, or worse, when employees disengage from their role and stay on feeling trapped or "at risk." Based on surveys of 19,700 employees from 1999-2003 (correlated to the changes in the US job market during this same period), conducted by the Saratoga Institute, part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a respected accounting firm. Companies have an opportunity to benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of why conventional exit interviews don't reveal the true causes of employee dissatisfaction, let alone surface enough of the right information to learn and make corrections in workplace culture or practice. Exit interviews are inherently a flawed design for getting at the truth (consider who is asking). This books shows what organizations can do to identify, prevent, and correct the root causes of employee turnover and disenfrancisement.
Woven throughout the book are 55 "Engagement Tips" to improve the culture and workplace environment or leadership to keep your top talent deeply engaged and contributing. Not all of these ideas need to be considered ... just the few that apply to your company's situation. Of course, with a focus on the root causes of damaging turnover, companies will become more effective at making wise hiring decdisions (avoiding job-person mismatches), align employee expectations with the realities of the position and the company, and show managers and employees how to provide constructive and sufficient feedback and coaching that breeds employee confidence. These are just some of the best practices of keeping the right employees despite constant change, long hours and challenging work conditions. Not all turnover is bad -- turnover is only problematic when high-performing employees leave too quickly, or do so with resentment toward the company, or they do not help the company make an effective transition. Conversely, non-performing employees will often stay to the exasperation of colleagues and management. The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave helps companies and not-for-profit organizations to identify, prevent, and correct the root causes of these problems. For more information, check out the author's consulting firm website, www.keepingthepeople.com, or read an in-depth review of this book (10 pages, PDF), or see our list of related books for employee retention and building employer attractiveness.
Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., Now, Discover Your Strengths, 260 pages, hardcover, The Free Press (division of Simon & Schuster); 1st edition (July 2001).Synopsis: Based on a Gallup study of more than 2 million people. This is (from the book's cover) a "revolutionary program that shows you how to develop your unique talents and strengths -- and those of the people you manage." In 2009, the same author published "How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life," which is also a powerfully helpful book.
This one comes with a free, online "Discover Your Strengths" questionnaire that helps pinpoint strengths -- it takes about 30-40 minutes to complete, but can be quite helpful if the person is truly interested in identifying and harnessing strengths. This is an approach that is compatible with the "appreciative inquiry" school of coaching, and gives people credit for what they do well, rather than tearing them down for what they don't. In practice, both perspective are needed, but building on strengths is unquestionably a better investment for developing people and getting the most from your own work.
The one challenge is that the book itself is not very easy to use. You must complete the web-based assessment (it identifies your top five individual talent-strengths and provides you with a brief custom report that you can print or email to someone, like your spouse or boss), and each person must start with a copy of the book. We'd like to see the Gallup organization change this, because the goal is not to sell more books (is it?); the goal must be to help people discover and develop their strengths. Perhaps the Gallup organization's strength is selling books ... I've written a letter ... see what happens. Meanwhile, find yourself a copy of this book!
John Chappelear, The Daily Six: Six Simple Steps to Find the Perfect Balance of Prosperity and Purpose; 130 pages, paperback, G. P. Putnam's Sons (Nov. 3, 2005).Synopsis: This book shows how anyone can be financially and professionally successful without becoming spiritually bankrupt. The author knows of what he speaks: he's created a multimillion-dollar business from scratch, and enjoyed all the benefits and trappings that lots of cash can buy. This all-consuming quest for more and more, however, ultimately led to a divorce and estrangement from his children, and ironically, he even lost his business that he had worked so relentlessly to build.
Today, as a self-described "recovering Big Shot," the author has committed himself to the pursuit of "success with significance." In changing the priorities of his own life, he developed and codified "The Daily Six" -- six practices and truths that provide a bridge between career success and personal well-being, and which have become the cornerstone of his corporate and personal consulting work.
Changing the focus of one's life begins with "willingness," germinates in "quiet time," and flourishes through "service to others." The journey to a well-balanced life is enlightened by "love and forgiveness" and is enabled by "gratitude," but can only be fulfilled through "action." When observed daily, these practices result in both career achievement and personal contentment. At minimum, these "six" can serve as excellent reminder of the values and principles that lead to a sustainable path of success.
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Three recommended books about applying "new science" at work
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