How To Nurture Team Members That Will Never Want To Leave


Have you ever loved a job so much you couldn’t imagine ever leaving? Remember a time when you bounced out of bed eager to get to work? Left work with a smile on your face and a feeling of really belonging to a tribe? I do.

It was one of my first jobs, pretty much straight out of University. I knew the basics of my role well enough, and there were lots of new concepts to get my head around. I loved working with the people in my office because we all got along really well. It was fun! My boss valued my input and often told me directly that he did.

Then one day I noticed the bubble had burst. I started looking around for another job, wondering where did it all go wrong? Over lunch with an older ‘wiser’ friend he told me with a heavy sigh “don’t be disheartened – all great jobs have a shelf life”. I had just met my expiry date.

Is that true? We can only ever expect pockets of greatness in our work life?

For many years I believed it. But as my career progressed and I climbed the ladder of leadership it dawned on me. If I wanted to be a great leader with a loyal following of enthusiastic team members, then I couldn’t accept this as the truth. There had to be a way for me to create an “in love with work” feeling in my team.

Then one day I hit the jackpot! I discovered the six core needs. It’s the secret code to unlocking how to nurture a team member so that they will never want to leave. Forget the expiry date, the key to a long-term relationship is all in your hands.

According to Tony Robbins there are six basic, universal needs that make us tick and drive all human behavior. We simply must meet these needs in the same way we need to breathe in oxygen. Find a way to lead using the six core needs as your guide and you will reap the rewards. Why? Because once someone meets all six in a resourceful way, then that team member will never want to leave.

The first four needs are identified as needs of the personality.

Core Needs

Imagine a set of scales where one side sits higher than the other. On the left sits certainty, comfort and security. On the right there’s uncertainty, variety and adventure. Each of these needs are present in all of us, however we will tip the scale with one side slightly higher than the other:

1. Certainty / Comfort

  • People who need to feel a sense of control over things, which in turn helps them to feel secure
  • Predictability and order leads to these people feeling comfortable

2. Uncertainty / Variety

  • People who love variety and change. They have a desire to bring fun into what they do and dislike routine
  • Chaos and spontaneity creates a feeling of adventure for them

If your team member appears to prefer certainty be careful not to give too much of this without any variety. This will lead to boredom.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, if there is too much uncertainty in the work environment then the team member will likely feel overwhelmed or stressed.

Your goal is to balance these needs for each individual according to their preferences in a resourceful way.

The next two core needs to seek out are:

3. Significance

  • People who value being respected, needed and wanted
  • They are driven by a sense of importance in the work that they do

4. Connection

  • People who are driven by a sense of belonging
  • Their need for communication and approval is high

Significance is the doorway to the soul. We all want to feel important, special and needed. As a leader, if you can nurture this need first then connection will follow. Encourage the whole team to work together to produce great results and acknowledge each of them for their contribution. Use every opportunity you can to provide genuine positive feedback about your team member’s work.

Everyone Wants To Feel Special

The final two are identified as the needs of the spirit. You need to allow your team member to meet the first four needs resourcefully before you can progress any further. It’s the meeting of these final two when people feel truly fulfilled.

5. Growth

  • The need for continual learning and development intellectually & spiritually

6. Contribution

  • The need to give back to others and serve them beyond our own desires

So get to know your team on a personal level. Chat over coffee, stop by in the morning and ask them about the night before or their weekend. Find out what they love to do, listen to what they talk about. Every story they tell will leave clues for you to determine what their driving needs are. Once you know this, you then deserve the opportunity to nurture a team who will stay with you and follow you wherever you lead them.

*This post originally appeared in The Successful Coach Magazine.



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