Does Your Employee Engagement Need a Lifeline?

Employee Engagement

3 Mentoring Guide Rails to Keep Them From Jumping Ship

The swelling statistics are in and they are churning up the corporate seas. Employees are jumping ship right and left in pursuit of clearer, fresher waters. Here are a few stats to shed light on what is likely happening in your end of the pool.

  • Gallup employee retention survey: 68% of employees in the U.S. are DISENGAGED — meaning they are not involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. They’re idly dogpaddling through their days. (The same stats hold true for the millennial population.)
    • Translation: Thirty-two percent are delighted to work for and with you. The other almost 70 percent— not so much.
  • LinkedIn estimates that 66% of its 350 million users are actively or passively seeking a job. 
    • Translation: A good number of your employees are tip tapping away on their LI profiles as you are reading this article. Updating their resumes?
  • Why are they jumping ship? They are casting their net elsewhere, according to an Accenture survey, because they aren’t feeling empowered nor receiving recognition for their good work.
    • Translation: If you don’t personally attend to your team members’ motivation to grow, count on them to bail.

What can YOU do to stem the tide of these valued employees leaving?

Intentional, creative mentoring partnerships will keep them anchored to you and willing to not only stay, but to engage.

Here are three ways to head off the deep dive into neighboring waters and use mentoring to address what they really need.

Offer the life raft of mentoring to anyone who wants, needs or asks for it.

Mentoring does not have to be a formal program, in fact, what you’d rather have is a culture of mentoring. Since leaders set the learning mentality, teach it and preach it. Let your employees know that you want each of them to have someone with whom they can talk, share and learn.

It’s a mistake to make mentoring a limited opportunity to a highly selected and “blessed” few.

Open the mentoring doors! Invite people to help and walk alongside others. Like one of my colleagues often says, “There is a lid for every pot.”

Maybe you have…

  • An employee two weeks into their time with your company?

…There’s certainly a six-month employee who could help them onboard.

  • A middle manager working on a rascally IT program?

…There’s likely a director down the hall who’d coach on IT project pitfalls.

  • A senior employee wishing to be savvier about her social media marketing?

…I bet there’s a junior employee eager to help her craft the messaging.

Mentor your employees by bringing them in on the action and giving them a seat at the table.

When employees bail because they feel they’re not recognized for their accomplishments or aren’t empowered to advance and grow, what are they really saying?

They’re sending you a foghorn message loud and clear:

  • “I want to be in on the conversation.”
  • “I want to know, not just what you say, but how you think.”
  • “I don’t want to underperform, I want every opportunity to outperform myself. So let me know what’s going on.”
  • “Can I go with you? Will you invite me into the scene?

Keeping people is often all about inviting.

Mentors, ASK your mentees to come with you. Don’t just sit under the florescent lights of your office and pontificate once a month.

Together, go to meetings, to management, to the marketplace. They’ll get the message.

It’s the way people learn and feel valued.

Let’s face it. There are employees perched on the end of your ship ready to launch, and even into choppy seas of an unknown “other” company because they think it will be better sailing.

But now, they are thinking, “Hey, you thought enough of me to take me with you to that?” instead of , “Where can I find a different place where I can get that connection?”

I’ll never forget what I learned from my boss, Tom, when he took me with him to one of the highest stake, bitterest negotiations I’d ever seen.

We’d been working on a joint venture with another company for months, nerves were frayed, and too much time was passing.  In this particular negotiation meeting Tom invited me to, his counterpart unloaded his biting accusations to Tom about our company, our ethics, Tom’s character and any other nasty thing he could think of to say.

Midway into this brazen show of disrespect, Tom, quietly picked up his notes, and said, “My team and I will be leaving. We welcome a future meeting when you can discuss the issues and treat us with the respect we deserve.”

We followed Tom out and that was the end of it, at least for that day. Tom taught me more in those twenty minutes than I learned in months of my grad school courses on business relationships.

He demonstrated that you must teach people how you expect to be treated and accept nothing less. (We did close the deal, by the way, and the tone and conversation next time around was much different from the other side of the table.)

Why did Tom mentor me so powerfully in those moments?

He had invited me with him. I’d experienced it first hand.

To you and your employees (and mentees) — whenever you can invite one of them to join you in a “real-life” learning situation, do so. They will be drinking from the fountain of company knowledge.

And most importantly, they will feel valued.

Enter and mentor. Go into their world, and then listen.

You’ve likely heard of MBWA, Management by Walking (or Wandering) Around? (Quick definition: Management (or mentors) moving about through the organization, making time for a brief chat or cup of coffee with individuals, impromptu discussions, listening to what the issues are at the forefront.)

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, in their best-selling business book, In Search of Excellence, wrote that top managers in their “excellent” companies believed in management by walking about.

In Peters’ second book, “A Passion for Excellence”, he said that as leaders and managers wander about, he said that at least three things should be going on:

  • They should be listening to what people are saying.
  • They should be using the opportunity to transmit the company’s values face to face.
  • They should be prepared and able to give people on-the-spot help.

Employers, swing by your employee’s cubicle occasionally, have lunch or take a walk around the building. Check in.

And then when you do, listen to what they have to say. Author Bryant McGill wrote, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

Go to where your employees are. And when you get there, listen to them.

Keep your employees on your ship. Follow this call to connected mentoring and you address the turbulent employee engagement statistics I mentioned earlier.

Why then, will they NOT jack knife into other waters? Because you are providing the connections and value they are leaving you for in the search for it somewhere else.

Keep at this and you will not only be shoring up a culture of  learning, but your employees with overflow with gratitude for the opportunity to grow.

2 thoughts on “Does Your Employee Engagement Need a Lifeline?

  • October 27, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Super good advice here, Lori. Interesting stat on LinkedIn members passively looking for a better lily pad to land on. Hmmm. Always a good read!

  • November 8, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Tammy, thanks for your comment and support!


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Lori Bachman created The MentorShift Group to equip mentors and mentees with a practical and powerful mentoring system. The system is designed to equip those who use it to, not only flourish in their own mentoring relationships, but to be able to transfer its success to others as well.