Retaining Diverse and Other Top Notch Employees

Diversity is an important factor in your hiring process. There are plenty of tried and true methods for recruiting top quality employees of all different backgrounds. But the question is, how do you get them to stay? Is there a high rate of turnover among your diverse talent? How do you maintain a high quality, diverse workforce over time?

A Vicious Circle

A recent survey of companies in the Twin Cities found that a lot of employers were having trouble retaining people of color in their workforce. 16% of diverse employees overall and 22% of those under 30 expressed a desire to leave the area within the next five years.

There may be a number of reasons that make Minnesota less than appealing as a place to work, but the main reason cited was the lack of diversity in the area. So essentially, diverse employees don’t want to stay in the Twin Cities because there aren’t enough diverse employees. This leads to a vicious circle which continues to make employee retention difficult going forward. How do you break the cycle?

Making Connections

But of course, the problem goes deeper than that, and the underlying issue also lends itself to a solution. It’s not just a lack of diverse faces that drives people of color away, but a general lack of inclusion and cultural awareness.

The lack of diversity can make existing diverse employees feel alone and isolated. Many employees found their coworkers closed off and insular, making it difficult to connect with them in any meaningful way. Even if you’re not actively being made to feel unwelcome, when your working environment has a passive feeling of exclusivity, it’s easy to start thinking about seeking more inclusionary conditions elsewhere.

Furthermore, though many companies did exhibit diversity, far fewer people of color were found to occupy leadership positions. This could partly account for the insular nature of existing employees. When the lack of cultural awareness is coming from management, it can make connections even more difficult. Additionally, it could indicate a lack of advancement opportunities for employees of color.

Diversity vs. Inclusion

So how can you fix the diversity problem in your company when it comes to employee retention? The first step is not to think of it in terms of filling a quota, but instead looking with an eye towards actual inclusion. That means making sure there are top notch employees of color at every level of management, and that your diverse workers have real advancement opportunities. For your entry level employees, provide mentors who can help them map out a career path and help them on the road to success.

Encourage connection between employees of all different cultures and backgrounds. You can even hold events that encourage an understanding and appreciation for all different cultures. And make sure that the recognition of those cultural differences doesn’t stop with those events.

For instance, remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays. Everyone gets off for Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, but do Jewish employees get off for Yom Kippur? Do Muslim employees get off for Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, which are celebrated during Ramadan? Or do they have to cut into their vacation time to observe those days?

Cultural awareness and inclusion are an ongoing process, and an important part of retaining diverse talent. Simply having people of different colors in your organization is not enough. You need to make sure they feel like they’re truly a part of the family. Take an active interest in your employees, their wellbeing, and their inclusion in your company, no matter their color or creed. By doing that, you’ll be on the road to maintaining truly lasting diverse workforce.

How to Get That Promotion

You’ve been at your current position at work for far too long. You’d love more responsibility, more money, and a better title. You see what your boss does, or the day to day tasks of the people above you, and you know you have what it takes to do that too. The question is, how. What can you do to convince your superiors that you have what it takes? Here are a few things you can do to get that promotion.

The Initial Conversation

Before you begin the process, let your immediate supervisor know that you’re interested in advancement. It’s important that you make sure they’re on the same page as you, rather than just hoping they notice that you’re working harder.

Starting that conversation can be a little nerve-wracking, but there are ways to make it easier. First of all, don’t just spring it on them out of nowhere. Schedule a specific time to have a conversation with them. If you just walk into their office and start talking, they’ll likely be in the middle of something else, and what you say will go in one ear and out the other. Instead, make sure you have their full attention.

Tell them you believe you’re capable of doing more, and would like to work towards increasing your responsibility within the company. Tell them what position you want to work towards. Then—and this is the important part—rather than telling them what makes you right for that job, ask them what it will take to get it. What do you need to do? How can you improve yourself? Let them tell you how to get the promotion, then work towards doing that.

Once you’ve gotten the initial conversation out of the way, then you can work towards actually getting the promotion. You can start by

Getting a Mentor

After your boss outlines what you need to do to rise up the ladder, ask if they’d be willing to help you. If not, maybe someone else in the company will. A mentor, who understands the position you want and what it entails, can be a tremendous asset in helping you achieve your goal.

Building Your Knowledge and Skillset

Does your company pay for continued training, such as workshops and seminars that are relevant to your field? If so, look at classes you can take to help build your skills. If not, find other ways to increase your knowledge and abilities within the company. Keep up with the latest news of your industry, so you can understand what’s going on and how it relates to your job—and the job you’re working towards.

It’s not just what you know

It’s also about who you know that will help you get promoted. Make connections with the important people within your company. Try to bond with them and show them that you’re hardworking and dependable. Don’t suck up to them or spend all your time trying to “prove yourself.” Focus mainly on doing your job and doing it well. But stay on people’s radar and try to establish a connection if you can.

Being Professional

This is one of the simplest, but also one of the most important steps in working towards a promotion. Show that you have not only the skills and knowledge, but also the attitude to succeed. Treat everyone with respect, from your bosses to your coworkers to your subordinates. Don’t complain about what’s going wrong, but instead take steps to correct it. Be friendly and sociable, but not the one who’s always talking rather than working. Above all, show that you’re glad to be there. Do your job rather than watching the clock and don’t be afraid to take initiative when you see that something needs to be done. Show that you’re a leader, but also a team player. This is the best way to show your superiors that you deserve something better.

Promotions aren’t achieved overnight. Be patient, as well as persistent. Don’t fret if it takes a while for the position you want to open up, or if you’re passed over this time in favor of someone else. Just keep working harder and showing your bosses that you’re what they’re looking for. Eventually, your hard work and perseverance will be rewarded

How to Reach Your Potential at Work

Do you ever feel like you’re wasting your talents? Particularly at work—you know your job and you know the company backwards and forwards. You feel like you should be able to rise higher or earn more, but something’s holding you back. How can you reach your full potential at work, in order to achieve your career goals? Here are a few tips.

List Your Strengths

The Greeks said, “Know thyself.” Harvard Business Review says it, too. They recommend beginning by taking stock of your current skills in your job and the things you do well. Just list the two or three biggest or most important ones on a piece of paper. What is it that makes you good at these things? What can you accomplish with these skills, both now and in the future?

List Your Weaknesses

Write down your two or three biggest weaknesses. What do you struggle with? What do you need to work on? This one is a little tougher. It can be difficult to admit there are things you can’t do, or problems in your job performance. It might help to talk to your coworkers and superiors about it. Once you’ve got your list, figure out how to improve your performance by fixing these issues. It might require coaching from a professional. Whatever it takes, do what you can to conquer your weaknesses and improve your work overall.

Identify Your Goals

What is it, exactly, that you’re trying to accomplish? Do you want a promotion? More money? A better job at another company? A position that offers better hours, or an opportunity to travel? Write down where you want to end up, and what you want to be doing. Include both long term and short term goals: what you want to be doing in five or ten years, but also next week and next month. Then break down exactly what it’s going to take to accomplish those goals, and turn those steps into new goals.

Create a Timeline

One of the biggest obstacles to reaching your potential is thinking in too broad of terms. You want to be Executive VP—great! But there’s a difference between having an idea of where you want to go and actually working towards getting there. Now that you’ve got your list of goals, motivate yourself by creating a timeline of how (and when) you’re going to achieve them. Then, once you have your basic timeline in place, of goals for the next five or ten years, get more specific. Create a timeline for the next month, and then one for the next week. Every day, at any given moment, you should be able to identify what it is that you’re doing right now to achieve your goals and reach your potential.

Get a Mentor

Nobody ever achieved anything all on their own. Talk to the people above you. Let them know what it is you want within your company and ask what you need to do for them to give it to you. In particular, find someone whom you respect and ask them to help you on a more personal and individual basis. Get them to mentor you and help you improve. Not only will this make you a better worker, but it will give you an ally in the company who will be more likely to consider and recommend you when it comes time to discuss promotions, raises, etc.

Reaching your full potential in the workplace is an ongoing process. Once you’ve achieved your goals, there will be new goals you can work towards, in terms of both achievements and performance. Never stop striving for excellence. That’s the best way to succeed.