The story of the dog at the front door 

The year was 2020, and it was a normal day in Gladstone. Mrs G and I had just turned in for the evening. We were having a conversation about our day and were drifting towards drowsiness. And our bedroom (in that house) was located right next to the front door. 

The front door was open to let breeze through, but the screen door was closed and locked to keep the bad guys and gals out. Not that we ever needed to, it was a nice suburb. 

Then, out of the silence, came a very loud dog bark. One that sounded concerned. Almost angry at something. I could tell the emotion in the bark, because it sounded very much like our own dog (hooman in a dog’s body, really), Dougal.  

The bark startled us, and we jumped out of bed. We went to the front door, to see our little boy looking up at us. Somewhat annoyed, at being locked out of the house. 

The thing was that the dog lived in our massive back yard. Not the front yard. And he should not have been in the front yard. If he was, he had gotten out.  

We let our boy in, and we were very interested in how he had gotten from the back of the yard to the front. On inspection, it turns out that we had left the back gate open, and Dougal had run around to the front of the house. 

Dougal was only two years old at the time (the equivalent of a teenager in hooman years), and it was the first time that we could ever remember that he had gotten out.  

So, we were quite surprised that Dougal didn’t run away. We thought he would have gone on a little trip around the neighbourhood. Exploring. And if he did, we would not have found out until the morning, most likely. Anything could have happened to our boy. Thankfully, he didn’t take off.  

And here is the thing. Why would he? Dougal gets treated like a hooman, we smother him with love and attention. We over feed him, and he spends time inside during the day. Dougal is part of the family. So, why would he take off?  

Especially when his home environment is probably better than most of the places that he could end up.  

The message is that people don’t leave environments when they are happy in them. 

With retention being a big issue at the moment (as finding staff is getting harder and harder), this post is about how you do just that. 

Here is how you can retain your staff, so that they don’t want to leave, and go roaming around the neighbourhood (looking for other employers). 

1. It all starts with psychological safety 

The four stages of psychological safety (credit Timothy R Clark) involve inclusion safety, learner safety, contribution safety, and challenger safety.  

Inclusion safety is about how you bring someone into your organisation and how you make them feel welcomed and part of the team. Learner safety is about providing growth and development opportunities, and learning (not blaming) from mistakes (see point 2). 

Contributor safety is making it safe for people to be their best self and bring their best self. And challenger safety is about making it ok to challenge the norms and raise ideas, opinions, and views. Without the fear of resentment, rejection, or ridicule. 

This is about creating the environment where you team want to stay, not go. 

2. It continues with career conversations 

In the book Radical Candor (Kim Scott), the author describes the process of career conversations. And they are not about what role do you see yourself in 5 years, as that is too big of a question for some people. The question is more around what type of work you like doing and would like to do more of over time. What type of work do you see yourself doing in 5 years, or 1 year, or 10 years. Not what job, what work. 

That work might be mango farming or personal training, not what the team member is doing now. The opportunity for the leader then is to work out how they can provide opportunities for their team member to get the skills that help them develop into the type of work they want to be doing.  

Leaders who can nail this one, create the environment where team members want to stay for as long as they possibly can. 

3. It also involves care, value, and support 

Here are the three big elements of leadership that will help leaders retain their staff. 

The first one is care factor. And what does that mean for those who don’t think they are caring. It means give time to your team members. Caring is about time. 

The second one is about value. And what does it mean to value a team member? It means to listen. To hear, and to engage. To close the loop on conversations and commitments. 

The third one is about support. Any team member who feels supported, will make decisions, will try new things, will have the robust conversations. Why, because they know they have their leader’s support, and that if they make a mistake, it won’t be punished, it will be coached. 

Back to the story. Dougal didn’t want to leave because his home environment is too good to go anywhere else. What can you do to make your work environment one where your team members want to stay, not leave?  

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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