Make the Grass Here Look Greener

I was getting a haircut this weekend, and about 5 minutes into it my guy says, “I’m not sure I want to cut hair anymore.” My first thought was, “you’re not going to stop RIGHT NOW, are you???” but instead of saying that, we talked about what he could do besides quitting. You may face challenges like this with your employees, who feel stuck in a rut, or who see their friends moving on to do cool new things. Give some thought now to the conversation you will have with people to help them re-motivate themselves and stick with you, hopefully even turning in a stronger performance for you.

First, he’s getting bored in the job, so we talked about other things he could do at work, like become an instructor, or encourage the shop to do volunteer work, like free haircuts for cancer patients. He was concerned that he’s already working 6 days per week and didn’t have time for something extra, but what I suggested is that perhaps these new activities could occur on one of his regular work days, rather than being something extra. My stylist back in the US did both of those and found a lot of satisfaction in both, and not only did he stay with his salon, but the salon also got some added value both from having an instructor on staff and from performing a public service that generated some positive publicity.

LESSON #1: look for more in your current role.

Then he shared his goal of owning his own shop someday, and we talked about how he could use this time to learn what it takes to run a business. He’s only been cutting hair for three years, so he certainly still has a lot he can learn about that particular skill (though I didn’t tell him that while he was cutting my hair; he could easily have taken that as an insult and responded by shaving some bad words into the back of my head). But there’s also a lot to learn about running a business. He needs to learn about managing employees’ schedules, marketing, compensation, accounting, facility management, and more, and he could be learning all about that now, while still collecting a paycheck. Free, hands-on training isn’t a bad deal.

LESSON #2: use your current job as a step toward something more.

Finally, he talked about what he enjoys, like the feeling of helping people feel better about themselves because they look more stylish, or the way his time is more flexible now than in his old job. He pointed out that when he worked in the hotel industry before this, his time was strictly controlled, not only when he started and finished, but also when he could take his breaks or eat lunch. In his current job, he has more flexibility in his schedule, and can work with his clients to find a time that works best for both of them rather than having his daily plan dictated to him. there’s a lot of personal value in having some control over your time.

LESSON #3: look for the positives.

Employee retention is an art, not a science. Getting bored or disenchanted at work doesn’t mean your employees need to leave, it just means they need to look harder for the good reasons to stay. If an employee seems like they might be thinking of leaving, rather than just immediately throwing more money at them, help them find for themselves something that makes staying the best option.