A Key Element of Employee Retention: Holding People Capable

by | Retention & Engagement

Effective leadership can enormously impact a company’s employee recruitment and retention. However, great leaders also need to learn how to help their employees feel engaged at work so they can contribute at the highest level.

The best people leaders don’t direct every move their employees make. Instead, they learn how to influence and inspire people to do their best work, empowering their teams to be successful.

Your leadership style can play a major part in how effective you are in creating thriving multi-generational teams. Implementing key elements of employee retention can help you connect with your employees, especially as we welcome more millennials and Gen Z to our workplaces.

This change in the workplace is “bringing with it a shift in leadership style, from leaders as capable managers to leaders as great coaches of people,” according to Harvard Business Review. You may have already experienced a shift in dynamics as you’ve explored how these generational groups prefer to lead and be led.

If you want to lead these groups successfully, there’s one especially critical skill you’ll need. It’s called holding people capable. The power of holding people capable before you begin trying to hold them accountable is an essential part of effective leadership.

Leaders who hold people capable before holding them accountable can drive powerful change in their organizations. Let’s explore how.

Adapting leadership styles is a key element of employee retention

Every leader will face challenges communicating with and motivating their teams, and there are no perfect formulas for making it work flawlessly. However, there are times when leaders can and should learn new ways of connecting with their employees.

A newly promoted leader may take on too much responsibility themselves instead of trusting their teams.An experienced leader may suddenly find that their typical approach frustrates employees more than it helps.

As new generations enter the workplace, there are bound to be points of friction between how certain demographic groups like to be led and how their existing managers are used to leading.

Holding people capable is a good fit for Gen Z and millennial workers

How might the changing demographics of employees affect your workplace today? Companies focused on employee recruitment and retention, especially those they deem the star performers of Gen Z, need to adopt a different mindset, reports Deloitte.

For example, millennials and Gen Z have different expectations for how their leaders communicate and offer feedback at work. They want to work for organizations where they feel respected and supported to do their best.

Gen Z is paying close attention to their leaders, even this early in their careers. For example, when asked about the top quality sought in a boss, 38% of respondents surveyed by Robert Half and Enactus were looking for honesty and integrity, while 21% looked for mentoring ability.

Let’s return to the idea of holding people capable as a critical element of employee retention. It’s an approach that will likely work well no matter who you lead, and is effective in the hands of both new and experienced leaders. This is great news for all generational groups.

Holding people capable is the leadership style preferred by all audiences, so it’s almost always a valuable approach to adopt with your teams.

How does holding people capable differ from holding them accountable?

When people leaders learn a bit more about their own leadership style, and what style their employees respond to best, they can unlock higher levels of employee satisfaction.

Let’s look at the difference between these two approaches. When leaders focus on accountability, they tend to have laser vision on the key components of holding people responsible: expectations, pressure, and rules.

On the other hand, holding someone capable builds trust and respect in your teams, freeing them to do their best work. This freedom sparks innovation and genuine connections, boosting employee morale and retention.

I dive deeply into how to fully implement this approach in my Hold People Capable Webinar, but I’ll share three key insights with you as a jumping-off point.

It’s all about what each approach inspires people to feel, think, and do when they experience this type of leadership.

3 key ways to hold people capable

There’s so much to learn about moving beyond leading through accountability. When you shift to expecting capability from your teams, you empower them to live up to and beyond your expectations, and their own.

Coaching teams in the workplace requires leaders to engage employees in new ways. When leaders support employees by giving them the freedom to perform to their highest capacity, organizations reap benefits through increased employee retention and morale.

Let’s look at 3 ways you can hold people capable.

1. Trust your employees

Believe that the answers to workplace issues lie within the people you speak with. Holding someone capable means empowering them to find their own solutions and supporting them as they progress.

When employees feel safe and respected, they can reach higher and contribute more to vital organizational goals.

2. Involve them in the plan

Guide people to their answers and support them to create an action plan. When you manage employees too closely, you may be tempted to give them detailed instructions on how to complete their work or tackle a new task. Inspiring them to tap into their own strengths helps them develop their talents and intuition for future challenges.

The more involved employees feel in creating a plan, the more likely they are to implement it successfully.

3. Coaching should be an ongoing conversation

Be consistent in how you guide people to answers in your daily conversations and personal leadership style. Coaching teams in the workplace should include regular check-ins and discussions to help build rapport between leaders and employees. Leaders who look for ways to have regular coaching conversations will create more lasting connections with their teams.

Employees who receive coaching and feedback through positive and ongoing check-ins are more motivated to offer their best work.

Holding people capable using the coach-like leadership method

When you hold people capable, everyone in the organization benefits. Leaders learn to trust their employees and gain better insights into how to inspire and support their teams. Employees feel heard, respected, and more successful in their roles.

Holding people capable is a key pillar of coach-like leadership and the best way to lead younger generations. Coach-like leadership helps people leaders to build a coaching culture within their companies and is a key element of employee retention.

Boosting the number of coach-like leaders on your team can help establish a culture of holding people capable of their best work, increasing retention and engagement across your organization.

Ready to learn how to hold people capable in your workplace? It’s time to build powerful collaboration and connection with your teams and sustain your impact for the long term. Get on the waitlist today for the next Hold People Capable Webinar.


Want to discover the key obstacle impacting your organization’s results?

Take our FREE 1-minute quiz to find out your organization’s #1 People Problem.