Employee vs. CEO: How to Retain Your Talent

Velocity team members enjoying dinner at our annual team meeting.

I recently had a conversation with our CEO, Dave Fechtman, where we were discussing some of the experiences our clients were having related to talent retention and The Great Resignation. As an organization, we help clients improve their talent endurance and organizational cultures. He then asked me what was working for me at our company and why I chose to stay when so many others in my generation are leaving their companies.

When I answered Dave, I shared that I need alignment between my personal and organizational goals and purpose. For me to work at your company, I need these 5 things represented in my organizational culture:

I Need To Be Empowered

When entrusted to create solutions and solve problems on my own, I gain a steep learning curve in skill development and a major confidence boost. As a result, I feel more connected to my company and those I work with. Through a culture of empowerment, leaders can activate the greatness in others, optimize their resources, and create more emerging leaders.

I Need to Be Trusted

I need to be able to rely on my employer to promote a culture of trust. A culture of trust prioritizes psychological safety and allows me to openly and authentically be myself without fear of judgment and retribution- the latter two being traits of a toxic workplace. Mistakes should be opportunities to learn and grow. I need to work somewhere where respect and diversity are valued. An organization with a culture of trust values integrity, with leadership that models standards regarding behavior, accountability, diversity, and recognition.

I Need A Great Relationship with my Leaders

I have a fantastic manager that exemplifies the values and essential behaviors of our company. I enjoy my time with her and can come to her when I have questions, concerns, and ideas. Like most millennials, I value professional development, and I want to have a relationship with a manager that can mentor me and provide me with consistent and constructive feedback. Managers are responsible for 70% of employee engagement variances. Leaders who offer to support their staff through coaching, career planning, trust, and accessibility have the happiest employees, and as a result, they creat more leaders.

I Need A Positive Employee Experience

If I am going to spend 1/3 of my life at work, I want to enjoy the experience. I don’t believe that it is ok for someone to invest their time somewhere that makes them miserable. Our experiences at work impact every area of our lives, including our health, personal relationships, family life, and more. Both employees and organizations must prioritize this. It takes little effort to become more intentional about creating moments of inspiration, joy, and laughter at work. Fun at work promotes a more positive mindset and mental health benefits while reducing absenteeism. I refuse to spend my life dreading Mondays, and neither should you.

We Need Shared Purpose

Finally, if you want me to stay, I need alignment between my personal goals and purpose, and the goals and purpose of my company. Having a shared purpose is one of the most influential elements of organizational culture for younger generations. In a purpose-driven environment, employees have a higher sense of ownership over their work. Ultimately, this leads to higher performance and a more collaborative work environment.

Nobody should hate where they work. Instead, I recommend taking the time to identify your purpose and non-negotiables and make sure they align with the organization where you spend 1/3 of your life. I did, and it was one of my best decisions yet.


…The Other Side of the Coin

By Dave Fechtman

I recently met with one of our key employees, Lauren Carlson, and asked her, “Why do you stay at Velocity?”  Before she answered, we both wrote down what we thought were the reasons, then shared the lists with one another.  Not to our surprise, our lists were significantly aligned.   We both had a little insider information going into this collaborative activity.  See, both Lauren and I have been working very closely on helping our clients combat The Great Resignation.  At a high level, I knew the answer was rooted in our culture and in her professional development.  What we learned through sharing with one another was a deeper list of reasons.  Let me share…

I Empower Her

Lauren, like many other talented millennials, is highly resourceful. In fact, she runs circles around me in many areas. At the speed that Velocity moves, we need teammates that are courageous and bold. We have safeguards in place to put a second set of eyes on all client deliverables and creative content that we publish. So, why not empower Lauren to bring her mojo to the mix? We are 100% better because we do. 

I Trust Her

It would be ironic if a company that focuses on leadership development and culture didn’t trust their teammates, right? I trust Lauren. See, Lauren makes mistakes just like the rest of us.  However, at Velocity we focus daily on our “Essential Behaviors” (Start the Race, Embrace Curiosity, Build Trusted Partnerships, Match the Moment, Passion Delivers Excellence, Anticipate Needs, and Finish the Race).  Lauren exemplifies our Essential Behaviors, and that allows me to fully trust her to contribute in a meaningful way and learn from her mistakes. 

Strong Relationship with Her Leader

As you can tell by now, Lauren is a rockstar.  Well, she also is led by an equally impressive rockstar. By design, Lauren and her leader meet regularly for a 1:1 coaching session. They have daily huddles where they align on expectations and time-sensitive tasks. This model works so effectively, that Lauren is now leading teammates herself and uses the same model for success.  Communication is key, and everyone is vested in prioritizing it.

We Have Fun

Velocity team discussing talent retention in zoom meeting.

Like many of our clients, we work in a virtual environment.  So, what do we do to have fun?  We build in rapport time in most of our meetings.  We welcome every new teammate with a “virtual scavenger hunt” (we’d love to share with you this cool activity… Just ask).   We even took a trip to Costa Rica last year.  Why?  Well, we want our personal relationships to fuel our professional relationships.  Of course, our senior leaders can surely get on Lauren’s nerves, but I suspect she gives us a little grace because of the investments we make in making Velocity FUN!

Velocity has a Shared Purpose

Our purpose is To Activate Greatness. Three simple words, right?  Well, we take this very seriously at Velocity, and that is why Velocity exists. We are committed to doing this for one another, our clients, and the organizations we serve. It is a very cool reason to exist, and guess what… Lauren came up with the phrase.

I’m very grateful for the afternoon that Lauren and I shared our lists with one another.  If you’re struggling with talent retention and morale, don’t treat it like a big mystery.  Lean into it and engage in conversation.  Another option… give us a call!

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