Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay

Evans, Sharon Jordan

Sharon Jordan-Evans is a pioneer in the field of employee retention and engagement.

She co-authored the Wall Street Journal bestseller, “Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay”, the world’s best-selling employee retention book, now in its fourth edition and translated into 20 languages. Her follow-up book, “Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work” (co-authored again with Beverly Kaye) also became a Wall Street Journal bestseller and has been translated into 15 languages.

As a corporate coach and keynote speaker, her clients include Fortune 500 organizations, such as AMEX, Boeing, Disney, Lockheed, M & M Mars, Monster, MTV, PBS, Sony, and Universal.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Sharon, one of the things that we like to do when we start off with folks is to find out a little bit about who have been the most influential people for you. It gives us a look at your background a little bit, and then we will jump in from there.

Sharon Jordan Evans: Well, lots of people at lots of levels have been really important to me and to my life. When I think about leaders, which I know is the focus of our topic today, there have been some that I knew very well and some that I actually just read about who influenced me.

For example, I had a boss at one point in my career who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Because of him I stretched and I grew and I achieved things that otherwise, in fact, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without him. So that is one. Another boss comes to mind who showed a real personal interest during a really hard time for me. My mom was dying of cancer – this is 20-some years ago, long time ago – and he said to me, “you need to take some time off and go be with her.” I thought he meant a leave without pay or something. He said, “oh no, you don’t worry about that. You go, you be with your mom, you come back when it’s time to come back.” Of course you can only imagine my sense of gratitude and commitment; boy did he get my discretionary efforts after that and loyalty. In fact, I would probably still be working for him except that he retired.

Those are two that come to mind. Then, there are some leaders that I have read about. Some that come to mind were Civil War military leaders. I was never a big Civil War buff, but I traveled back to that part of the country, that geography and I became inspired as I learned about some of these leaders who inspired young men to march 20 miles without any boots in the snow and then launch an offensive when they got to their destination. When you read about these leaders, what you realize is that they were trusted, that they were loved and that those young men would have followed them literally off of a cliff. So I really tried to take lessons too, from some of those military leaders I have read about.

Dr. Relly Nadler: You used the term discretionary effort. I know what it means, but how do you describe that for folks? It’s a little bit of a fancy term, it’s a good one; how would you describe discretionary effort?

Sharon Jordan Evans: Discretionary is going above and beyond. Usually there are expectations when you have a job for what you’ll deliver. Frankly, most people just deliver that, or sometimes they even don’t quite deliver that much. They get close enough so they don’t lose their jobs. The discretionary effort is when you bring 100%+ to work every day and it is made up of so many components; enthusiasm and loyalty. By the way, I hear that loyalty is dead thing, and I know that is absolutely not the case. It may be redefined today, but it is absolutely alive, kicking and well. That sense of loyalty and commitment to a team, to a boss, to a project, to a company; whatever it might be allows people to bring that extra effort.

Dr. Relly Nadler: We are going to get into more of the meat of your newly revised book, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em. You mentioned that it’s a collaboration with Beverly Kaye? Your book is organized around the alphabet. There are 26 chapters and each one stands for something different. It’s organized really well and there are actions or things to do with each one of the chapters. Let’s talk about the book and what is new in this edition. It does look like you have a little bit more of a cross-cultural focus.

Sharon Jordan Evans: Yes. With every edition of Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, we have updated throughout. So, we have read every line, every word of every paragraph, we have updated where we needed to, we have included new stats and new stories to illustrate our points. In this one, what is really new is that it is more globally friendly. We have been doing work internationally for years and we have manager training programs all over the globe. Somehow we just kept Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em rather US-centric in all of its previous editions. So we said this time, OK enough of that. Yes we are still US-centric, we can’t help it because we are in the US, but let’s make this more globally friendly. So in virtually every single chapter we made sure that we were including some kind of a reference to how this philosophy works somewhere else, or maybe doesn’t work. Also, how to really pay attention to cultural differences and how for today’s leaders in so many of these huge global companies, they really need to have an idea of how cultures differ and vary.

There is a story I thought I could share with the listeners if you are up for it?

Dr. Relly Nadler: Sure, I’m up for it.

Sharon Jordan Evans: OK. It’s in the Hire chapter. In the Hire chapter we are talking of “H”. We are really talking about getting the right person in the job in the first place, which of course increases the odds that you will keep him or her.

Here’s a story about a Asian candidate who came to interview for a key position in Asian headquarters of a global company. This candidate shows up with a large mole on his face with a long hair growing out of it. He also had two long pinkie fingernails. The interviewer had never seen anything like it and was wondering what this was about. Why wouldn’t he have plucked his hair or trimmed the nails or something? So the interviewer asked his global partner about this. The partner said to him, to have a mole brings you very good luck in our culture. To have a hair growing out of the mole is even luckier and it is common for men to grow their pinkie nails long in order to show that they are not laborers. As the understanding grew for this recruiter, the impression of the candidate completely changed, as you can imagine.

The story of course illustrates some of the challenges of cultural differences and how important it is to test our assumptions about people.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Great story. Let’s get into one of the topics in your book. Of all of the letters that you have in the alphabet, this one, probably, people remember; the “J” is for “Jerk.” You’ve got some great things in there: you have a “jerk” behavior list, maybe you could share some of those. People are familiar with my work; I have a Derailer Detector, which is similar, but you have a lot more “jerk” behaviors listed. So to highlight, what are some of those things that are going to derail someone? If you haven’t heard that term it means that you may be doing great but these things show up and you are on the track or rail for success and it throws you right off. What have you found?

Sharon Jordan Evans: First of all I should say that some people encouraged us not to include this chapter in the book. They said it is the only negative chapter – well, it’s actually not, if you read it – it’s not a negative chapter. But, the title could cause some people to think that. The title of this chapter is: “Jerk” and then the subtitle is “don’t be one.”

We even got some pushback internationally because some countries do not have that word or they are not sure they have the word, so they didn’t understand. I gave a speech in Ireland and everybody kind of looked at me blankly when I referenced “jerk”. So then, I described what a jerk can look like. It’s someone who intimidates, or condescends, or withholds praise, or slams door, swears, always looks out for himself; the list goes on, we have got 50 jerk-like behaviors listed in this chapter. I would describe some of those behaviors and then people in the audience would go, “oh, that’s a – then they would fill in the blank. They indeed did have a word that described people like that, and in fact, we included in our chapter this time a little piece of artwork here that has translations of the word jerk in something like 15 different languages. I am just hoping that we got them all correct here. You know what that is like – when it’s translated.

So what we know is that people in every culture, in every company, occasionally exhibit jerk-like behavior and the intent behind this chapter is for people to do this checklist for themselves, not necessarily to have someone else rate them, but just to hold up a mirror and say, “do I ever accidentally, occasionally, exhibit any of these behaviors?” Then I always say, and if you aren’t sure, you could pull a friend at work aside, show them the jerk checklist and ask them to tell you. Of course, if you don’t have any friends at work, then there is a clue for your clue bag.

Learn more about what jerk-like behavior can cost. Can you be ruining your employees marriages? What are “stay factors” and what are the top six? Get more tips and tools to tune-up your performance by listening to the complete recording above, without commercials.

What can you do to ensure that your employees stay?


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