by Mel Kleiman 

Most reasons the most talented and productive people flee a given workplace can be avoided. Here are common mistakes, along with better alternatives.

10. Treat everyone equally. This may sound good, but your employees are not equal. Some are worth more, because they produce more results. The key is not to treat them equally; it is to treat them all fairly.

9. Tolerate mediocrity. A-players don’t have to or want to play with a bunch of C-players.

8. Have dumb rules. I did not say have no rules; I specified dumb rules. Great employees want to have guidelines and direction, but they don’t want to have rules that get in the way of doing their jobs or that conflict with the values the company says are important.

7. Don’t recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember Psychology 101: Behavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately.

6. Don’t have any fun at work. Where’s the written rule that says work has to be serious? If you find it, rip it to shreds and stomp on it, because the notion that work cannot be fun is actually counterproductive. The workplace should be fun. Find ways to make work and/or the work environment more relaxed and fun, and you will have happy employees who look forward to coming to work each day.

5. Don’t keep your people informed. You’ve got to communicate not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly. If you don’t tell them, the rumor mill will.

4. Micromanage. Tell them what you want done and how you want it done. Don’t tell them why it needs to be done and why their job is important. Don’t ask for their input on how it could be done better.

3. Don’t develop an employee retention strategy. Employee retention deserves your attention every day. Make a list of the people you don’t want to lose and, next to each name, write down what you are doing or will do to ensure that person stays engaged and on board.

2. Don’t do employee retention interviews. Wait until a great employee is walking out the door instead and conduct an exit interview to see what you could have done differently so they would not have gone out looking for another job.

1. Make your onboarding program an exercise in tedium. Employees are most impressionable during the first 60 days on the job. Every bit of information gathered during this time will either reinforce your new hire’s “buying decision” (to take the job) or lead to “Hire’s Remorse.”

The biggest cause of “Hire’s Remorse” is the dreaded employee orientation/training program. Most are poorly organized, inefficient, and boring. How can you expect excellence from your new hires if your orientation program is a sloppy amalgamation of tedious paperwork, boring policies and procedures, and hours of regulations and red tape?

To reinforce their buying decision, get key management involved on the first day and make sure your orientation delivers and reinforces these three messages repeatedly:

  • You were carefully chosen and we’re glad you’re here;
  • You’re now part of a great organization;
  • This is why your job is so important.

Wyman’s note: None of us do all of these things right all the time but as you go through your day look out for these pit falls. They often happen when you fall into a routine and get too focused on the process rather than the outcome. Processes are developed to help ensure a certain outcome; the problem is when those processes become too routine and we then get busy we start following the process just to follow the process and check it off the list rather than to reach the desired outcome we wanted. The ironic thing is that sometimes when our focus changes from the outcome to the process itself then the process stops producing the outcome we wanted it to in the first place. The other major pitfall is that we forget to adjust our process when the outcome we want is adjusted and don’t give leaders the flexibility to alter the process on the fly if needed to reach the appropriate outcome.