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Article: How to Manage Employee Retention Related Resources

How to Manage Employee Retention
by Keith Lee

Empower your employees to make decisions and they'll continue to be happy productive team member for years to come

Make-You-Happy Action Teams (MAT) plays a critical role in managing employee retention. This is Z-Theory management. To briefly sate, Z-Theory management means everyone that is effected by a decision for the company gets a "say" or a "vote" in the decision (tons more on Z-Theory Management in another article).

This means employees are directly involved in decision making that affects them. When then make decisions that directly affect them, they stay around longer! Pretty simple.

You're going to want to form a MAT in a number of instances:

* Whenever you're working on one of those big issues that will get a better answer when you get the group of stakeholders involved. * When you have an issue that is causing conflict or problems in your business. * Whe to improve a situation or take advantage of an opportunity can better be answered by a group. * When the results will significantly affect another group.

What is a MAT?

A MAT is a group (two or more people) of stakeholders who get together to solved a problem or develops the best way to take advantage of an opportunity.

Who's in a MAT?

Stakeholders. People who are affected or will be affected by the decisions that the MAT makes need to be included. That doesn't mean everyone who is affected by the decision, but it does mean a representative of the groups affected.

For instance, if we are discussing the best way to service clients who come to our facility to buy and pick up products we'll have people from sales and warehouse on the team. While she doesn't need to be in on the entire process, we'll probably also invite the receptionist and get her input on the initial greeting and transfer of the client to a sales rep.

At first this may seem like a lot of effort for an easy task, but if we get both warehouse personnel and sales personnel working together we'll do a better job of uncovering all of the little issues that could get in the way of providing Make-You-Happy Client Service. By doing this we come up with the most efficient way to get the order back to the warehouse and pulled quickly so our clients are WOWED!

How Many People Are In a MAT?

Teams become inefficient when they are too large or too small. If they are too small, you don't get enough ideas and you don't think of all things that can cause problems. If you have too many people the group is too large to get everyone's input and still get done in a reasonable amount of time. As a general guideline 5-7 people is a good number.

Complicated Issues and MATs

You will often find that your MAT needs to use resources from people that are not a part of the MAT for the entire process. Here's an example:

Years ago when we bought new software for our computer system we thought we were going to be able to enter orders on the system while we were on the phone with clients. But months after training and allowing people to get used to the system our reps were still hand writing orders and entering them after they hung up. There were probably a dozen little things in the system that made it much easier for the reps to enter the order after they hung up.

We decided to have the order entry system changed to take care of all of these "little things". Our initial MAT included sales reps and our software programmer.

As we addressed the different issues we found we needed to get a representative from the accounting area involved so we could answer all of the questions that had to do with accounts receivable, granting credit, increasing credit lines, etc, etc. So accounting personnel were part of the MAT for a while.

When we started tackling the issue of custom or special orders we needed to get representatives from purchasing involved.

Do You Need To Be In Every MAT?

No, No, No, No,No - This system is all about making your job easier NOT HARDER. You do need to lead the teams in the beginning to set the example and show people how these teams work. While you do this as you start implementing the Make-You-Happy Management System it is critical that you model the MAT team guidelines and facilator responsibilities below. As you model these, you'll want to train new facilitators. While being a MAT facilitator is not just for managers, all of your managers should be trained to facilitate MATs.

Today, and for at least 8 years, I am seldom in a MAT.

Leading (Faciliting) MATs

It is critical that you have trained facilitators leading your MATs. Since this whole idea of getting everyone's input will be new, it's critical that the facilitator reinforces it and makes it clear that everyone's input is not only wanted, but required. The facilitator's major responsibilities are to:

* Keep the discussion focused on the topic and moving along

* Intervene if the discussion fragments into multiple conversations

* Tactfully prevent anyone from dominating or being overlooked

* Bring discussion to a close

Once people truly understand and buy into your new management system the facilitators role will be become less and less important.

Facilitators must be trained to facilitate conflict. Conflict is inevitable and in fact desired.

You want conflict of ideas and we know that sometimes that will lead to conflicting personalities and emotions... and that's OK. In many cases you'll not be able to properly address the situation that needs to be improved until the personal and emotion conflicts are dealt with. We can then get on with solving the problem. The goal is to get everyone on the same side with the problem on the other side of the table. Here are guidelines to use when dealing with conflict situations. When conflict situations arise. Be sure everyone in the group understands that these guidelines will be used:

1. Be open and honest

2. Everyone will have their say

3. Listen without argument, verbal and non-verbal.

4. Feelings need to be supported by facts and specific behavior

Facilitators need to be trained in the following conflict resolution facilitator rules.

State the ground rules, 1-4 above.

* Allow ventilation of emotions
* Ask open ended questions
* Listen objectively
* Offer feedback
* Define the problem
* Get commitment to attack the problem not people
* Set goals and create action plan
* Follow up
* Don't take sides

Keith Lee is the creator of the "Make-You-Happy Management System." Keith developed the system in 1991 when he was burnt out from all of the stresses and time issues involved with running his business. This system creates happy customers, happy employees, but most of all gives you back you life. For more articles and information on this one-of-a-kind system for business owners and entrepreneurs visit

Keith Lee is the creator of the "Make-You-Happy Management System." Keith developed the system in 1991 when he was burnt out from all of the stresses and time issues involved with running his business. system creates happy customers, happy employees, but most of all gives you back you life. For more information and other articles visit

Keith Lee may be contacted at or


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