Employee Retention - Pedro Angulo On How To Retain Key Talent

Employee Retention - Pedro Angulo On How To Retain Key Talent

September 29 2019

We've kindly been joined by industry expert Pedro Angulo to share his advice and insights with you on how to retain staff in the Irish financial services & Fintech industries.

About Pedro Angulo

Pedro is the Head of Leadership Development at AIB which is one of Ireland’s major retail banks serving over 1.8m million personal, business and corporate customers. AIB offer a range of banking products and services such as mortgages, savings and business banking.

Pedro is also the Programme Director at the Irish Management Institute. Founded by business leaders for business leaders, the Irish Management Institute has been empowering world-class executives for over sixty years.

We're delighted that Pedro could contribute his thoughts and expertise to our recently published Employee Retention Guide.

Employee Retention Guide

Over to Pedro . . .

Pedro Angulo On How To Retain Key Talent

There’s a recurring theme I notice when working with different leadership teams that seek to retain and develop great talent – they’re all so short on time.

Every day, every hour, whether we’re in the office or at home, we are bombarded with email, Facebook messages, Instagram updates, Tweets, WhatsApps, LinkedIn messages, and more. 

We are always busy but to what end?

In many ways, we’ve become a busy society, not a purposeful society. 

This is a problem.

People are so time-poor that there is little space for reflection. 

Reflection is crucial for people who want to develop themselves and their organisations. Jeff Weiner, CEO at LinkedIn, supposedly blocks between 90 minutes and two hours every day for reflection and describes reflection as “the single most important productivity tool” he uses.

Reflection, however, requires time and space to think (slowly and deliberately) but in today’s fast-moving society, there tends to be very little patience for this approach.

We want to get things done faster and quicker all the time. Fast action gives us the feeling that good progress is being made. The challenge is that this “short-term” approach doesn’t always deliver the required results or the required results the right way. 

As leader, you have so many stakeholders to manage and you’re supposed to get them all on board quickly as you enact rapid change. You are likely expected to be successful in your change efforts straight away.

Short-termism, the shortage of time, and the expectations of rapid change all combine to produce high levels of stress which can work against proper organisational change and resilience. 

It can also cultivate bad leaders and leadership practices. 

Bad leaders can potentially be worse than tobacco. They nit-pick and micromanage, destroy team trust, create stress in teams, and they don’t provide proper guidance or support to team members – this can destroy any company’s well-intentioned employee retention efforts. After all, what kind of talented high-performing employee wants to stick around in that kind of negative environment?

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom!

It can be helpful to start with the end in mind. Let’s begin by envisaging what good leaders look like and how they can encourage good people to stay.

When you work for an excellent leader, you feel valued and energised - it's a magical thing.

Good leaders make you feel safe. They make you believe that your contributions matter. Good leaders enthuse you to put in that extra effort, not because you have to, but because you want to.

Much of this safety and confidence comes from leaders providing space, time, support for self-reflection, development, and change.

Good leaders know when to take a high-level view and when to dive into the detail. They understand that the more frequent your deep dives, the less of the big picture you can see. They have the right people in the levels below so that the team and the wider organisation is able to resolve challenges in an effective way without the leader as a bottleneck. 

Good leaders naturally work to remove bottlenecks. Many of our workplace structures, norms and practices were created in the 1970s but times have changed. We are now hearing a lot more about ‘agile work’ which is crucial for leaders guiding tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people – leaders need to understand business activities but they don’t have time to get stuck on the minutiae. 

Employee retention

Avoiding the minutiae is all about making a successful transition from the technical ‘doing’ work to the ‘leading’ work; from short-term to long-term thinking; from transactional to transformational leadership.

‘Doing’ is doing the technical work - selling something, checking proposals, going to conferences, and other such activities. In contrast, ‘leadership’ features listening to people, understanding people, walking the floor, and other actions that facilitate learning and culture. Also, the more senior the role, the more ‘enterprise thinking’ is required. Enterprise thinking is more strategic, more enterprise-focused than team leadership.

Good leaders add some other elements to the mix. They lead with more than tasks and jobs – they lead with purpose, clarity, and conviction. They also understand that this purpose, clarity, and conviction are better communicated in a humble and authentic way which includes being open to admitting mistakes. A humble, self-confident approach builds trust and belief which bring people along through personal power, not by relying on the power of the position which only brings compliance. Personal power brings empowerment and commitment. 

A good way to embed this leadership style is to include employees in decision-making and empower them to take action. Experiment all the time in an agile fashion with lots of small tests, experiments, pilots, and proofs of concept, followed by rapid scale-up into national or global products and markets.

Microsoft is a great example of a company that has purposefully and successfully transitioned to a mindful, more humanistic leadership style and culture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took the reins about five years ago, and in that time he's credited with making the company cool again. Since his watch began in February 2014, Microsoft Corp’s market value has gone up by more than 203% vaulting on April 25 above the $1 trillion mark pulling ahead of Apple Inc and making it the most valuable U.S. publicly traded company. According to Nadella a large part of the organisation’s success is based on encouraging a growth mindset. Leaders with growth mindsets embraces feedback and challenges as opportunities to grow, find lessons and inspiration in the success of others, look at the bigger picture, challenge the status quo, see effort as the path to mastery, and are continuously curious and learning.

Employee retention begins with leadership.

If you are a leader, ask yourself how much time do you spend doing, not leading? Do you have the right balance?

How well are you modelling the behaviours that set the tone for your organisation? 

Much more than any Mission Statement, employees observe leaders’ behaviours to evaluate what is important and what is just faceless ‘corporate policy’. Remember though, people can smell the ‘fragrance’ of corporate slogans from a mile away. Authenticity is everything. It is very demotivating to employees (and harmful to employee retention efforts) when leaders say one thing but do another. In contrast, as we noted earlier, when you work for an excellent leader, you feel valued and energised - it's a magical thing.

Leaders’ behaviour creates and changes workplace culture . . . for better or worse.

Pedro quote


Read The Employee Retention Guide

Thanks to Pedro for sharing his excellent insights in our Employee Retention Guide.

To download the full document, visit the Employee Retention Guide page.

Need Help?

If you want any help or you are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.