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Beverly Kaye: Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em

Dr. Beverly Kaye joins in this episode to discuss all things talent with specific reference to the practices highlighted in her book Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, which has recently had its sixth edition published. This conversation sees us speak about ways to avoid losing your people, but also when it’s okay to ‘lose ‘em’.

Additionally, Bev dives into why internal talent mobility is so important, why people leave organizations and the three things a talent-focused leader does.

Here’s how the conversation went… This interview has been edited and condensed.

Rhonda Taylor: Bev let’s talk about your book, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em you just ended up republishing it again. Tell me why did you republish it?

Beverly Kaye: It is in its 20th year, and this is the sixth edition. Every five years or so, something changes globally that tells my publisher, let’s look at that book again. I think I’m the only book he’s ever published that’s had six editions. With this one he said, I want you to show the connect between inclusion and engagement and I thought that was an interesting challenge. My co-author and I are not diversity inclusion specialists but we delved in to learn what is the difference really, between engaging someone and including someone and we found they’re soul sisters. So our publisher said, I want every single chapter to make that connection and that’s how we grew the sixth edition.

Rhonda Taylor: I love the title, ‘Love ’em or Lose ’em’ and right off the bat I have to ask you, what do you mean by love ’em?

Beverly Kaye: When we first wrote the book in 1999 our publisher said can’t you find another word, because love on a bookshelf and love for a business book isn’t suggested. We stood firm, because no other word says listen to them, respect them, say hello to them, notice them, compliment them etc. Now that it’s 2021 love is much more accepted as a word that organizations don’t run away from. I think the word love encompasses the 26 ‘love’ strategies or practices that we talk about in the book.

Rhonda Taylor: What is your interpretation of what lose ’em means?

Beverly Kaye: There’s several ways of losing ’em. You lose them as a manager to your own group, you lose them to your enterprise, which is not bad at all, or you lose them to the competition. We hope that you see your own organization as an internal marketplace, we want talent to stay in the enterprise and see all those options for moving within the enterprise. Lose means you may lose them to your department manager, but try not to lose that talent beyond your enterprise.

Rhonda Taylor: Sometimes when leaders and managers hoard their talent they don’t realize that they’re really setting up to lose that talent; you’ve got to be able to let the talent move on within the organization.

Beverly Kaye: In our research we found over and over and over, that people are leaving because they don’t see any other opportunities. When we went out and found that person in the next organization and asked them precisely what kind of opportunities were you looking for? They told us. We then went back to the manager who lost them and said, ‘Sally was looking for this’ and the manager always said, ‘Oh my gosh, I could have done that for her. Why didn’t she tell me?’ Well, why don’t you ask? It’s a two way street. Employee, why didn’t you ask, and manager, why didn’t you ask? In our alphabet in the book, A is for Ask. Ask your people why they stay and listen hard to the answer and don’t ask them what you can do to keep them at the exit interview. It’s too late!

Rhonda Taylor: We’re witnessing that in today’s marketplace people are not necessarily wanting to make a career move up the ladder to success, but they’re looking to maybe make a lateral move.

Beverly Kaye: They’re wanting to make a growth move and growth could be lateral, growth could be growing in place, growth could be a short term gig etc. Growth could even be I want to go back to being an individual contributor, the management role is not for me. I wrote about all of that back in 1982, when the first edition of Up is Not the Only Way was published.

Rhonda Taylor: In your book, you speak about ‘good people’. What constituents a good person?

Beverly Kaye: It’s my other big beef that I’ve had for the 40 years of my career and it’s not just about your high potentials, do not ignore your massive middle. The massive middle is filled with treasures that you just haven’t noticed. So to what your organization stands for, you don’t have to go outside to find talent. It lives under your nose. But not all talent knows how to raise their hand and say, choose me, I fit that, and we have to make that easier for them. I think it’s critical.

A good friend of mine was Roosevelt Thomas, one of the founders of diversity, I said to him once, what is/does diversity mean? I’ll never forget he said, it’s the maximum use of the skills of the workforce. I said, well then the workforce does not know how to say, here are my skills and their managers don’t know how to say, let me learn what your skills are. It’s this mysterious cloud around skills, that is another area that’s very big right now and something that I know Fuel50 is fueling.

Good people is also anybody that it would break your heart to lose, anybody that’s critical talent and have you told that critical talent how critical they are? Have you said the words I want you to stay, I want you to stay on my team in this organization, what can I do to keep you? Instead we ask that magic question, ‘what can I do to keep you’ at the exit interview. Shame on us for that. So good is anybody that you would not want to lose, look deeply, look broadly, and be colorblind.

Rhonda Taylor: How do you go about getting good people to stay?

Beverly Kaye: By stay, I mean not just plunked in that seat. By stay, I mean I’m engaged, I’m turned on, I’m looking at other ways to add to the organization. It’s not just tucked in, it’s tuned in and excited about what they’re doing. A talent-focused leader, an engagement-focused leader, even an inclusion-focused leader does three things.

  1. They grow their talent. They show their talent where the opportunities are to grow them.
  2. They build relationships with every single individual.
  3. They build a culture that people want to come to.

The book is written according to the ABC’s and there’s a constellation of letters that fit into growth, there is six or seven letters in the alphabet, we call them practices or strategies that really build relationships.

All the letters as Sharon and I tried to build it alphabetically fit into those three clusters. Then we had four leftover that we didn’t know what to do with because they fit in all of them that was the A, the B, the N, and the Z.

  • A = ‘Ask’. Primarily with every single strategy, the manager has to learn how to ask. Ask your people why they stay, ask your people what the best part of their day is, ask your people what the worst part of their day is, so you get to know them.
  • B = ‘Buck’. Buy into that you can do something about it. Not about every single thing, but about a lot of things.
  • N = ‘Numbers’. If you doubt the importance of this, run the numbers, and you’ll see how expensive it is to lose talent.
  • Z = ‘Zenith’. Meaning, this is never done. You’ve got to do it, do it, do it, do it.

We call those four success indicators and the rest are practices and of all those practices, one of the most important is career. If I don’t see a future for myself in this organization, then I’m not staying.

Rhonda Taylor: You’ve talked about your 26 engagement strategies. Do you have any favorites?

Beverly Kaye: One of my favorites is the C for career, because that’s my other whole big body of work. There are several chapters in the book about career but I think if I’m not fueling my passion, then I’m going to not give you my all, or I’m going to leave. The other favorite chapter turns out to be the J for ‘Jerk’. We had to put that in. It’s been in the book for the past 20 years and when again, our publisher said, Why do you have to put that one in? It’s a negative. We said we have to. Because we followed up people’s exit interviews and they said, whatever: a better job, more money. However we found them in the next company and we said, we have your exit interview right here, why did you really leave? Are these the factors. Almost to a person they said, Well, not really, I left because my boss was a jerk and I could not stand it anymore.

As good researchers, we said, what do you mean by the word jerk? And they gave us 55 Jerkatudinal characteristics that are in the book and in our workshops. The way we get managers to kind realize their jerk behaviors we show them the list and we say, have you ever had a manager who did this to you? Or a manager with this behavior? And they all did. Then we say, and what did it do to you? Which highlights ‘Well, I withdrew my ideas, I started looking around, I shut down at meetings’ etc. Then we lead them to, and which of these jerk behaviors do you have? Do you want to check that out with your employees? A lot of them say, Yeah, I do. There’s some great conversations around that chapter.

Rhonda Taylor: We wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have a job that they love. Beverly, you’re so passionate about what you do and you’re a trailblazer you have been doing this a long time. What drives you to keep going forward and loving it at the same time?

Beverly Kaye: My daughter asked me that recently. She said, you work so much. Why? It’s cause I love it, I’m passionate about it. I have a little bit too much of it right now, but it feeds me. Over my office door it says ‘Do what you love and love what you do’.

Bonus Gift from Beverly Kaye

I have been hearing from managers that they don’t know what to say when they check in with their remote employees. After ‘well how are you doing?’ What else could I ask? So we took the A-Z’s and I brainstormed with one of my trainers and we developed 26 ways to start a conversation with a remote employee. You can download the article ‘Staying Connected While Working Apart’ at https://bevkaye.com/staying-connected/

We hope you enjoy listening to this episode of the Talent Experience Podcast with Dr. Beverly Kaye! Look forward to sharing more learning with you.