Free Templates and Tools for Trainers, HR professionals, Team Leaders, Facilitators and other enthusiasts
My mind is insatiably curious and I have read and collected several good articles, advice, tools, templates, and lessons along the way. These have helped me at work, with projects, and at home. This is my attempt to share some of that back to others trying to learn more and with the world.
Avoiding obstructions in walkways which could be an issue especially if there should ever be a fire and someone needs to leave fast!
Floors being free from loose tiles
Make this checklist part of a process, if you want to make sure the outcomes are taken seriously and really do lead to having a a safer working environment in the office.
Make it work for you
Train a few people on how to use this list for inspections and what to look for. Assign different people to perform the checks – a fresh pair of eyes may just notice something which you have missed for some time.
Transfer all aspects that require improvement actions after the inspection onto an action list. Monitor closure and completion of each action item until they are all done.
Keep copies of your completed inspection checklist and your completed action lists. You never know when having this documentation may be useful to show your due diligence in keeping your workplace safe for employees.
Look for aspects that are often noted during inspections and create an awareness program to make sure everyone in your office knows how to avoid a situation which could lead to an injury in the office.
You can also think of making it fun – should the person with the best workspace get a special gift to encourage others to pay more attention to keeping their workspace safe?
The starter list file is below if you want do have your own copy to modify.
It may be a while before you are back at the office and this may be the best time to plan your Office Safety Program. This can help you to be ready for when you are scheduled to return to the office. You may want to add some more specific items related to covid19 too. Why not use this time to review the checklist template above and start drafting one that is right for you?
You are invited to a meeting and they expect you to contribute. If this is early in your career or you have not been to those meetings before, the invitation could leave you quite uncertain of how to make sure you at least meet expectations. Where to start?
The questions below can help you
prepare to attend these meetings,
shape your thoughts in the meeting and
prepare to lead meetings.
Preparing for meetings always include looking through the agenda to understand the topics that will be discussed. If you have received pre-reading materials, read through those and note your thoughts and questions for each agenda item.
Three questions that can be helpful at meetings
1. What is the purpose of this topic or this discussion?
Maybe you can answer this to yourself by reading additional materials shared with you before the meeting. Maybe you can get an understanding by asking someone you know in the company who is involved with the project/issue to be discussed. Be careful to not share any privileged information with others if you were provided with information that is considered confidential. It would be good if you can frame in your own mind what you believe the purpose of this item on the agenda is. It will help you understand how you can help move that purpose forward during the meeting.
If you find yourself listening to the points being made and questions being raised in the meeting which do not seem to be related to the purpose that you have in your mind, ask the question. “Are we aiming to solve X or Y at this time?” If you have not been able to understand the purpose of the agenda item by the time the discussions take place, ask for clarification on the purpose of this item. Is it for information only? Is this topic on the agenda to drive decision-making? What decision are we trying to make at this meeting with this item?
If you are leading:
Be sure to let meeting attendees know ahead of time: What is the purpose of each agenda item? Take the guess work out of the group dynamics and be more efficient with your time together in the meeting by being clear on the purpose of each item on the agenda. [If something is FYI only, consider sending an email instead of having a meeting.]
2. From which perspectives should we be looking at this?
Consider as many perspectives as you can think of to cover each of the agenda items that will be discussed. Jot down your notes and questions for each perspective – how would this perspective impact the agenda topic?
It is not uncommon for new meeting attendees to be somewhat intimidated by strong opinions of other attendees and they often refrain from offering their own perspectives especially if that is different from those who already voiced different opinions or suggestions. The key is to step back from it (mentally) to look at who is in the meeting. Which function/group does the perspective just offered represent? The answer is often linked to the group that person works in or has been working in for a long time. It could also lay in the part of the organization that this person has worked in for a long time. One’s experiences at work tend to shape the perspectives one sees issues through. Just because there is a different set of perspectives being put on the table at the meeting, does not mean that yours is not valuable.
Frame your perspective and share it. For example: “Based on call-center feedback, I would suggest we reconsider adding XXX feature/functionality to avoid the top 3 issues that our customers currently seem to have with our product.” A path-forward decision could exclude your observation or suggestion after consideration, but that does not make your contribution unimportant. It was most likely a good aspect to review and consider before the final decision is made on how to proceed.
If you are leading:
Make sure you do draw out different perspectives during a meeting to consider and select the best way to proceed with a project. It improves the quality of your decision-making process when you have considered many different alternative perspectives.
3. What are our next steps from here?
Considering the agenda topics and looking at your notes about the purpose of the agenda items – what do you think each item would or might lead to? It is not always possible to accurately predict how a discussion might go at the meeting, but you could jot down some possible next steps. Then you can review your notes at the meeting and you would be in a great position to suggest a path forward after the discussion.
The next step could be anything ranging from doing nothing at this time, to more research is needed, to a small working group will figure out a solution and propose it at the next meeting, to let’s run a pilot or to let’s implement. It does happen though, that an agenda item is discussed even debated only to be left unfinished before the next agenda item is introduced. It behooves someone, ideally you, to ask this question to ensure clarity about the outcome of the discussion just had.
Your contribution at the meeting may be that you are the one who helps ensure that outcomes are clear, agreed by all and documented.
If you are leading:
Remember to avoid moving to the next agenda item before the decision has been captured and next steps are agreed and documented.
Being invited to join a meeting of experts and senior people may seem intimidating at first, but coming armed with your notes and thoughts in these key areas would help you feel more confident that you too have something to offer and contribute to making it a productive meeting!
It is about knowing what you want to say when you answer the questions, but it is also about how you say it. Your credibility and success will depend on both – contents and delivery. While you can get feedback from others on your written answers (contents) and feel confident about that, until you have practiced the delivery, you are only halfway ready for the interview to get the job or role you so desperately want!
Collect maybe a handful of typical questions asked at interviews (there are several sites that would offer you suggestions for questions to prepare for). Also, look for some specific questions that are logically tied to the role description for the job.
Examples of typical questions include:
Give me a summary of your career history and why this role is right for you.
Tell me more about yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 5 yrs – career-wise?
Why are you interested in this role?
What is the achievement that you are most proud of in your life?
Tell me about the last time you got angry with a colleague?
2. Use the STAR methodology to construct answers on paper/screen to the typical questions you picked. If the question is not in the format “tell me about a time when” – you can still use the STAR method by answering “The situation was… X, I had to do Y, Here is what I did… Z, and the outcome was AA and this is why I believe/want/have this approach… (explain your answer)”. In some cases, STAR may not the be right way to go about giving an answer. (Link to explanation of how STAR methodology works)
3. Use structured messages (especially if STAR may not be the right approach for your answers) See post about how to structure messages. In principle – look for 3 key points you want to bring across to answer the question or explain something. The power of using 3 points is that humans remember 3 points and it satisfies something primal in us to hear answers in 3’s. Tell us first “There are 3 reasons why” and then tell us that one by one.
4. Practice your prepared answers a few times until you feel that you have reached a satisfactory level of delivering the right message in the right way – answering the questions you have selected.
5. Time to record yourself. Get out your video recorder/tablet/phone and record yourself answering the questions one by one.
How to use the recording(s) of yourself answering the questions:
How to review your recording
Turnoffthesound! – Watch your body language and look for moments when you find your body language possibly distracting from your message. It could be that you keep sweeping your hair behind your ear, or you fiddle with a pen or your glasses or you do not make eye contact. Make notes about that to yourself.
Don’twatch – listen! – Watch it again without looking at the screen, just listen to your answers… does your voice sound steady? Is it clear? Do your answers come across crisply and credibly? Make notes for yourself.
Watchandlisten! For the 3rd time, watch the recording with the sound on. How does your body language compliment your answers? Where do you wish you didn’t play with that object in front of you because it made your answer sound tentative? Or did you look away from the camera while saying something important? Make more notes.
6. Use your notes and adjust your answers as needed to improve on the contents. And practice answering them in a new way.
7. Find someone who has interviewed others in the past to listen to you. Ask him/her to ask the questions one by one and deliver your answers (updated words and delivery as per your adjustments). Ask for specific feedback on areas where your answers or delivery could be better.
Having made the adjustments and delivered your answers to the best of your ability on the day of the interview does not always mean the job is yours. There are many reasons why good candidates do not go to the next level of interviews. Do make sure you learn from your experience if you are not successful. Ask for specific feedback after the interview – regarding areas where they felt you did not meet expectations. Then use that as a checklist for the next time you prepare for an interview.
If you shine a light on any team you will notice some areas where processes, communication or collaboration can be better. In many cases a team can function well enough even with a few improvement opportunities. Want to do a snapshot checkup on your team? The downloadable tool below can help you identify any specific areas to focus on if you feel your team performance can use a nudge in the right direction.
When teams fail it is usually recognized as a combination of the team not reaching desired outcomes, team members feeling a high level of dissatisfaction and frustration with team processes and other team members and team leaders failing to accomplish their own goals for the team and for their own career growth.
The 7 aspects of teams shown below are classic areas where low performance could lead to team failures.
7 troubles with teams
Taking a closer look
The first column to complete is the scoring column. The question would be – how do I know that my team may be experiencing this trouble? The audit list gives you a possible symptom of observable behavior on either side of the scale: desirable (give this a score of 5 if your team shows this behavior) and undesirable (give this a score of 1 if your team shows this behavior). Should your team display behavior that is somewhere between those two opposites select a score between 1 and 5 that you feel is most accurate to describe how far they may be from either end. Perhaps a score of 3 would be appropriate if you see desirable behavior only 50% of the time.
Look at the column called impact. When you look at the behaviors defined as undesired and also the other column containing desired behaviors, how much does it impact the outcomes produced by your team when those behaviors are present or not present? Maybe the impact is “high” if you consider how many hours are wasted when that behavior is present? Maybe it is only “medium” which means some time or effort is wasted, but not too much. And it could also be a “low” impact if that particular behavior does not contribute highly to the inefficiencies you experience as a team experiencing a particular aspect from the audit list.
Evaluate your results by looking at both the scores column and the impact column. The graphic below shows the way to identify which of the aspects to focus on when it comes to prioritizing an area to address:
The download file above has suggestions for each of the 7 areas that can be addressed.
Every team has good times and bad times. Just because your team just did very well, it does not mean it will necessarily continue to go well. And just because your team failed last week, it does not mean there is no way to make it a high-performing team!
Use the tool above to take a closer look at your team and I wish you success in mapping out your next steps; helping your team be even better than it was before!
It is easy to think “I will just create a quick survey for that” and then go off and email a link out to a group of people to collect responses. Looking at the big picture perspective, firstly be clear on your overall survey objectives and how you will use the input you receive.
Once you have defined that, take a few more minutes to think through 5 key aspects of launching a survey before you proceed:
What exactly is the message?
The platform you plan to use
CHECK the text
The intro matters
The thank you
Launching a survey is a message too
(It says: I want to know, I value your opinion, I am listening, Tell me what you think)
Take the time to write down all the messages about the survey that intended participants need to know. What do other stakeholders need to know – think of managers who may need to help you communicate to their groups about the survey. What do you need to make sure they know about it before your launch date?
People need to know what the survey is for and why it is important. What is this survey linked to and how do you hope to use the input to drive decision-making?
When can they expect the survey to be open and how will they access it? Link via email or QR codes around the building/email or will it be an app on their mobile devices?
Will you be emailing out the announcement of the survey or is there a communication plan that is much broader than the survey? Perhaps some messages will be on social media or notice boards? If you need to make a communication plan, this template can help:
Be sure to share this information with intended survey participants when you map out your communication messages:
This survey is coming on (date)
The reason we do this is (….)
What we hope to review/change/update/introduce as a result of this survey is (…)
Why we are asking for your input is (…..)
It will only take (…..) minutes of your time to complete
We will let you know about the results (time) and (how/where)
How will you protect their privacy and if the survey contains sensitive information – who will see it and how long will you maintain the data before destroying it?
Can they participate anonymously?
There are various survey platforms available these days – some are free, and others are not. In general, those with paying options come with additional features such as help to analyse your data, automatic graphic creations for communicating your survey results, text analysis options etc.
Whichever platform you choose to use, test it first. Create a quick survey and send out the link to some trusted colleagues or to yourself to see how it displays. Can you access the survey using the link without any firewalls or other error screens interfering with ease of access? Is it easy to complete the survey online? Is there a phone app for it? How well does the phone app work?
Also look at the reports you can get from the platform. To what degree does the platform offer you some level of analysis as a download? Can you download a spreadsheet which you then need to analyse yourself to create a presentation or a report? Knowing what remains for you to do is an important consideration in choosing the right platform for the survey.
Check the text
Make sure you have read each sentence out aloud. Missing words or repeated words can be overlooked when you just glance through your survey. Reading it out loud – word for word – often highlights areas that may need to be reworded or corrected. Answer these questions about your survey wording:
Do the instructions make sense? If I ask other people how they would interpret the instructions you plan to use, would they know what to do next?
Is each question or statement to be rated constructed in a simple way to avoid confused answers? i.e. do not ask about more than one thing at the same time such as “do you think it was easy to do and did you like the fun tests we handed out at cafeteria last week?” In this case your results could be hard to interpret. If the final scores are low, was it because people thought it was NOT easy or was it because they did NOT like it? Or was it both?
If the platform has a spell check function, use it. If it does not, copy and paste the text into a document where you are able to check spelling before you proceed to launch the survey
The intro matters
Even if you did a great job at communicating about the survey in your communication plan activities and presentation messages, people may not have seen or heard all of your early messages. Tell them the highlights in the introduction section of the survey: (after the survey title and before you start with your questions or statements to rate etc).
What it is FOR?
Why are THEY asked for input?
What will you DO with the information obtained?
Is it anonymous or will you be telling others what they said in the survey?
By WHEN do you expect their response to have been completed after which you will close the survey?
HOW LONG is it likely to take participants to complete the survey?
Say thank you
When people answer your surveys, they are prioritizing your request given other tasks that lie before them. They are making time out of often busy days to provide you with feedback. A simple thank you message can go a long way to ensure people are open to respond to future survey participation requests.
And while you are saying thank you, it may be an idea to provide a link to a website to visit if they want to find out more, volunteer or whatever other actions you would like them to take after completing the survey.
Surveys are so easy to create these days and the need to collect recent data and employee feedback is becoming more mainstream in companies than in previous decades. The annual employee survey is no longer the only way that change managers and management obtain feedback. Surveys can be a powerful feedback tool and yet, they can also create confusion and frustration if they are not communicated and launched with some forethought and planning.
The Center for Creative leadership’s (CCL) research on executive success and failure identified the significance of “derailers”, and how they differ from just mere weaknesses. They studied leaders who made it to at least the General Manager level, but then their careers had involuntarily stalled, or they had been demoted, dismissed, or asked to take early retirement.
A derailer is not just a weakness. We all have many weaknesses that we may never choose to improve, and some weaknesses do not impact our career success in a major way. A derailer is a weakness that requires improvement if employees wish to realize their full potential in their careers and especially as leaders.
Why do leaders fail?
Leaders most often fail due to unaddressed weaknesses, derailers, and if left unaddressed for long enough these become habits that start to shape a leader’s style of interacting with others. The steady number of reported incidents involving significant leadership behavior issues in companies of all sizes and across industries is a strong reminder not to think that it cannot happen in your company.
Most leadership derailers will not cause the fall of an entire organization. But they can certainly lead to a failed career. The question you need to ask yourself is: “What type of derailers would cause a leader in my organization to fail?” Or, as a leader, “Which derailers am I prone to and how can I address them?”
How do successful leaders avoid derailment?
They seek feedback throughout their careers from people at various leadership levels and from various functions both within the organization and external to the organization (as appropriate).
He or she seeks developmental opportunities that can help overcome flaws and ask for developmental advice from other trusted leaders, coaches, or confidants.
They seek extra support and coaching during transitions and especially when a possible “trigger” event occurs, which they do not cope well with.
They remain aware that new jobs require new approaches and behaviors and successful leaders not only recognize this but reach out to ensure they have the right support and advice to successfully navigate through a transition into a new role.
How can the organization help to avoid a leader from derailing?
Organizations can take actions to ensure that leaders are aware of weaknesses which could derail them in the future and the following cautions can help with that:
Consider career paths that include time spent in various different groups, business units, or functions instead of a career path that simply moves in a straight vertical line within the organization.
Encourage and promote feedback to employees that focuses on “how you did it” instead of “what you did” only.
Beware to not consider one failure by a leader as a sign that he or she is completely “off the track” and using it as a critical development need to address instead.
Avoid moving managers to new roles too fast and instead allow them to remain in a role long enough to experience the consequence of business decisions and learn from it. A strong culture of learning and “failing forward” is a great environment for leaders to address high-risk weaknesses at an early stage of their careers.
Identify possible derailers – Self Assessment for leaders
This self assessment can be done between a leader and his or her coach to open up conversations about “what can stop me from reaching my leadership goals and ambitions?”
An honest look at the listed factors can help a leader identify perhaps the one or two behavioral traits that could possibly derail him or her in the future. Working with a coach, a leader can explore different ways to handle some of the situations which they had not handled well in the past.
Both organizations and leaders within the organization need to take responsibility for identifying signs of weaknesses that could derail a leader in future and then commit to addressing the issue before it becomes a derailer. The costs of failure in this area is not only public humiliation for the leader and a public relations challenge for companies, but also has tangible costs when one considers for example costs associated with a high staff turnover, which often accompanies groups where the derailed leader has worked over the years.
A learning book is a great tool to use for learners who are keen to capture the key points of learning moments. It is also useful for coaches or trainers who may want to make them available to coachees or class participants to help them along on their learning journey. A pdf version of a learning book is available for free download below – letter size, A4 size an A5 size.
To really learn something new, one must chew on it – write it down, read what you wrote and then consider how it changes your perspective or increases your awareness or understanding. The learning book helps learners to capture ideas and thoughts. It gives them a chance to go back and review what they had written before to remind learners of what they had thought at the time and planned to do about their own continued learning.
“Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student.”
– George Iles –
There are many ways that someone can learn something. Classroom sessions are not the only option. See the list of opportunities to learn below: (and this list is not exhaustive)
The learning book is a place to capture all new thoughts, ideas, and areas that a learner wants to learn more about in one place.
Feel free to add additional pages that would help guide the learner along a developmental path.
The book is broken down into 3 parts: Prepare to learn, Learning, and Follow-up. In the preparation to learn section, there is space to capture the topics that the learner would like to know more about.
Prepare to learn
The learning section has a few pages to prompt learners about aspects that may be important for them to remember later. It covers aspects such as areas to research further after the learning event. Or maybe they want to capture the highlights of their learning journey a particular week. Maybe there were a few statements of quotes that they really want to remember – the learning book has a page for that. There is also a page to capture any favorite speakers or writers that they came across and want to know more about.
After a learning event or conference, we often have great plans for new initiatives to implement or people to contact – topics to research. And unfortunately, many of those great ideas dissipate when our normal lives resume. The Follow-up section is about capturing the actions you plan to take and it gives you a section to capture dates or months when you plan to work on it.
It’s a great way to help you check back on how you are doing with follow-up activities.
Reviewing your own learning notes from the last few months can help you pick-up again on an interesting point you still wanted to follow up on. Perhaps you had planned to call someone or to do an internet search, but somehow you forgot about it. Having it written down in your learning book and being able to review it, you can pick up on those points and ensure that you do complete the task that you had planned to do.
The download file links below contain *.pdf versions of a learning book for 3 different printed sizes: letter size, A4 size and A5 size (which is half the size of an A4).
Developing leaders by placing them on specific assignments is a great way to broaden their perspective while ensuring their highest development needs are being addressed in a structured way. The template (download link below) ensures transparency regarding developmental focus and management expectations of the outcomes of an assignment.
An assignment may require a change in location, but not always. An assignment could also be a temporary changed reporting relationship or being part of a different group or business unit. A different group of colleagues and managers to work with provides an assignee with the opportunity to broaden his or her internal network and learn to build relationships fast. International assignments can add additional learning objectives such as developing more cultural awareness and skills involving collaboration and communicating across cultures.
The example shown, helps to illustrate how one would go about using the developmental assignment template I am sharing above (see download link).
What should he/she learn?
The areas to develop (called Leadership Aspects in the example) would depend on the competencies that have been selected for leadership development and the latest ratings from the performance management process can be used to provide you with the ratings for each leader. This helps you to focus on the development needs with the highest priorities at that time. A conversation with the leader’s direct manager could be very useful in selecting the highest priorities. If the employee had been included in a recent talent review, there may be additional information available to complete the template and select the focus areas for his or her leadership development.
How will he/she learn?
Selecting the development activities, it is important to first understand specifically which aspect of that development priority the employee needs to learn more about.
Theoretical (mainly improving awareness)? Then an online self-paced course could be the answer. Or even sending the employee to attend an external class or read a book (or selection of books).
Learning new behaviors? Coaching and feedback based on actual examples encountered could be a good approach. You could also do a pre-test and post-test with some experiential workshop or learning intervention taking place between the tests. Workshops which include options to practice new behaviors can be great solutions.
A combination of learning interventions is the best way to address development needs. Look at each high priority learning need and look for ways to combine class-room training, self-paced learning, short On The Job (OTJ) assignments or tasks and perhaps coaching too. Each of the interventions would then strengthen learning and reinforce principles introduced.
Be sure to document who will mentor or coach the employee. He or she needs to understand the support you are making available to him/her on the journey of learning new skills.
What is the definition of Done?
Spend some time considering how you will close out the assignment with the specific learning needs. Will you want a written report detailing the learning that took place over the assignment period? Or will you want a report and also a presentation? Or perhaps just assign a presentation to be developed whereby the assignee is asked to share his or her key learning achievements with a panel of senior-level stakeholders? Assign the completion activity early so the assignee can prepare for it from the moment he or she starts the new assignment.
Include stakeholders early
Share rating templates with the intended evaluation panel and the assignee before the final event or evaluation of a written report. The transparency helps all concerned to anticipate the level of detail required and where the focus areas will be. This helps the employee prepare from early-on in the assignment to provide the required final product or presentation.
Documenting the learning objectives of an assignment helps to orient and align all stakeholders on how to positively impact the development of that leader – the leader himself/herself, his/her direct manager or supervisor, his/her coach and HR or L&D staff supporting the assignment.
Most of us have had a situation where we are really not sure which way to go – which choice is best for us in a given moment? Some people ask all their friends and family for advice and then go with the most popular idea that came up. Others do a lot of research and still find themselves unable to make that final decision – option A, B, or C?
I learned this way of making decisions from a manager some years back. He called it a chicken-chart. I really do not know why, but the method has really helped me get clarity about decisions that were hard to make because none of the options were obviously better than another option from my perspective.
Simple steps to help you make decisions
What is the decision you have to make? Define it clearly. [In the example below the decision would be “Which company does Jack want to work for?”]
Then write down the options you are considering. [In the example here: Jack is considering only Company A and Company B – you can put in any names that may be right for your decision]
Write down a list of the 5 to 7 most important things you want the solution to have. [In the example below Jack cares about a good salary, a good location for the office, the personality of his boss, the % of strategic tasks that he would be able to work on and the Potential impact that his work could have on team success]
(see the example being used – a person called Jack is trying to decide whether he wants to work for company A or company B)
Decide how much you like each of the criteria you wrote down. If you like it more, put a higher percentage on it (either in a 50% format or a 0.5 format). In the example below, you can see Jack decided that a good salary counts at least 30% towards his decision to work for company A or B.
Start recording how much you like all of those aspects for company A. Then do the same for company B. Give each aspect a score between 1 and 5, where 1 is a really bad score and 5 is an excellent score for that company and for that aspect that is important to you.
Let’s calculate the weighted score for each line item. It is really simple. It is simply: the weighting x score = weighted score.
Now it is time to add up the totals. Get the total for the scores alone and then get the totals for the weighted scores.
If you look at the result from this example you can see that the difference between the total score for Company A (12.5) and the total score for Company B (18) in simple likes or scores is relatively small and if you used those scores to make the decision, you may have doubt about the choice ahead of you. The difference between your score for Company A and Company B is 44%.
If you look at the difference between the total weighted scores for Company A (2.35) and Company B (3.7), you see that the difference is much bigger because it now also includes how much Jack liked each of the criteria that he included in this exercise. In this case, the difference is 57%, which is bigger than the previous difference of 44% (for using only scores alone).
The final decision now seems more logical – to choose for company B because the difference between the two options is bigger – 57%. When you include the level of how much you liked one aspect of your criteria over another one – the difference (in this example) increased and it became much easier to know what to choose!
It has been said that your most valuable asset walks out of the doors every single day and you can but hope they come back the next day – your employees!
Keeping employees from leaving a company could be as simple as engaging with them, including them, helping them develop new skills and listening to their ideas. While that sounds deceptively simple, not every leader finds it easy to act when they hear that advice.
Before taking action it is almost always a good idea to get the facts first. Do we have an issue? If so, where are we most at risk? In the case of employees the questions may be – who may be most at risk of leaving the company and what can I (as manager/supervisor/coach) do to avoid that?
The self audit list below may be a good place to start assessing how much anyone on your team may be tempted to leave your team or the company.
Completing the checklist requires you to answer yes or no to a series of statements as they would apply to each employee on your team. Once you have completed the assessment, add up the numbers of “no” answers you have for each employee and use the Score guide at the top of the page to determine whether each employee would be in the low, medium or high risk from an employee retention perspective.
The next risk to assess, is the impact it would have on your project or team if that particular employee decided to leave. Look at each employee (each column) and consider the unique skills and talents that he or she brings to the project and rate the impact that his/her (unplanned) voluntary departure could have – low, medium or high.
Where to start? Map the answers from the self audit sheet onto the graphic below. The risk that each employee could decide to leave on the horizontal access and the impact on the project, in case that employee did leave, on the vertical axis.
Then write down the names of employees that would be in the “green zone” vs the “yellow zone” vs the “orange zone”.
The orange area requires immediate and high focus, the yellow zone does require focus, but less so. The green zone requires maintenance. Do not assume that because a retention risk is low today it would stay that way for years. Many talented employees get calls and offers from other companies and recruiters all the time! This means you should never stop reminding them why you are happy that they are on your team! And don’t only tell them, show them! Celebrate milestones and successes, recognize them in meaningful ways and show them how working with your team or company is the right long-term strategy for them. Make sure you offer them advantages towards their overall life goals, their career goals, their work-life balance goals etc.
Once you know where to focus, use the last worksheet as a checklist for areas where you can lower the risk that someone may consider leaving the team.
Use one checklist per employee and make sure that you have conversations with each employee about the areas where you either did not know the answers (looking at the self-audit worksheet) or you have not said anything to an employee about a particular area.
When it doesn’t work
Sometimes employees will leave for reasons you could neither foresee nor control and though it may negatively impact your team or project, you would need to hire someone else or promote someone else into the role that had become vacant. Make sure you are always developing several employees on your team to take on more tasks and responsibilities. A good pipeline of developing leaders is your best strategy for growth and also for voluntary employee turnover. Parting on good terms when valuable employees leave always leaves the door open for their potential return in the future.
Using this focused approach to assess your employee retention risk exposure does not guarantee that valued employees will not leave. it is simply a prudent way to keep an eye on your biggest assets, employees, and it supports the process of taking timely actions to lower those risks.