I was with a new succession planning client the other day that is known for paying his managers very well. He is also known for being a bit cocky and aloof. He was a referral sent from another client who is very successful at recruiting and retaining managers. He inquired about the advice I had given his colleague, in order to have the same productivity. I confirmed his observation noting that his friend had several managers who were amazingly motivated and most importantly, they were totally committed. I confirmed that they were paid well but not extraordinary, but relative to the jobs they were doing. I advised him, that with respect to the development of these managers, I expressed that his friend was coachable. I told him to acknowledge those managers that produced, show affection to managers that could lead, affirm the ones that drink his Kool-Aid, and show love with more than money to those leaders who believe in him. His friend had done this and now he has a very impressive management team that is getting better every day.
I continued to explain that his friend’s managers did not all mature and become highly competent at once. Some had challenging seasons of growth before their true colors became visible. I explained that we had installed progressive golden handcuffs that conservatively began with producers. It became sweeter for leaders and very generous to the confirmed senior managers. Most importantly, beyond the bonuses and the golden handcuffs was each manager entered his friend’s circle of trust. He began to share his personal life, which became the most powerful form of affirmation. His friends and his managers began to relate as team members, not just boss and employee. They had invested time and emotions into these guys (and spouses) and the managers have responded by expressing an unconditional commitment to do whatever it takes to help their leader achieve his goals. The key to their relationship is that the managers trust that their leader’s success includes their success. Retaining key managers is not all about the money; relationships, trust and mutual respect are the keys to retaining key managers who are vital to succession.
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