How to engage your senior team? How to get a feedback?

Hello :)

I was wondering if anyone could help...

We have been  suffering with high turnover rate for the last few months (this year 15% of our staff left and they were all in mid-senior level positions). Unfortunately you find out reasons for leaving during exit interview stage, when it is too late.

 The staff engagement levels are low and I haven't managed to get a buy-in to my engagement strategy because as soon as the CEO and COO heard about doing attitude survey, the interest was lost. 

I would really like to start talking to senior managers more and trying to find out how engaged they are, what works and what could be better and feed it back to the CEO and COO without worrying about losing confidence among the people.

Does anyone have any ideas how to approach it? Maybe do a HR forum where you are getting all Senior Managers together to one room once a month or once every two weeks and there is an open discussion or open feedback or do 1:1 with them (simple checking if you are OK thing).

 Does anyone have any experience? 

I would really appreciate your thoughts.




  • Rosemarie

    | 594 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    13 Jun, 2014 16:01

    The head of my org isn't keen on surveys either, so it was simply a case of what I could do that he would support.

    He wasn't even keen on regular management meetings, but now they are working and we've put 'fluffy stuff' in, like 15 minutes over coffee at the beginning, he's starting to see them as good things.

    We also introduced a corporate cascade comms process: very simple and having a bit impact.

    The key is to keep it very simple so that it has to have minimal input and effort and also have less chance of failing.  Anything big or complex is more likely to fail and will reinforce their feelings of their limited value.

    Put a cost on recruitment and turnover.  Nothing like a hard cash value to focus the mind.  Benchmark it in the sector (15 per cent may not be that high in the sector, or may be phenomenal).  Collate the reasons for leaving.  Just because someone has left doesn't mean you can't use the information.

    Make it into a picture, not words.  Illustrations speak far louder than a couple of pages of text.

    Don't assume they know what you are talking about.  If they did, they would either have your job or be doing it.


  • Hi Rosemarie

    Thank you for your response. 

    It's very helpful.


  • Sandra

    | 431 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    13 Jun, 2014 17:03

    The information you get from your exit interviews is invaluable to use to try and improve things if that is feasible and the senior managers agree.  Cost to the business is important and the cost of recruitment alone should make them sit up and notice if you can analyse the figures and make a good presentation.
  • Nick

    | 12 Posts

    Chartered Member

    16 Jun, 2014 15:16

    Hi Eva

    My previous organisation had, at one point, a staff turnover of approx. 30% vs. an industry average of 10-12%. With a reliance on agencies, our recruitment spend was astronomical, but it was just seen as par for the course.

    On joining I did a review of 12 months' exit interviews, put together a brief pack which showed some of the verbatim comments that leavers had made, and summarised the cost and time of recruitment - that made the senior management take note and buy in to subsequent engagement activity.

    HR forums and focus groups are another way of soliciting really useful information, but can become a bit of an excuse for a whinge if not framed in a positive way (look up "appreciative enquiry" techniques). I also find that managers can be reluctant to commit to agenda-less meetings so I just normally add "and how are things with you" onto the end of my individual management catch up's before waiting for the rant to begin.

    "Engagement" is something that I've seen a lot of managers think that they are experts at - but no doubt they will welcome any guidance/advice that you can offer along the way.


  • Robey

    | 1585 Posts

    Chartered Member

    17 Jun, 2014 12:22

    "no doubt they will welcome any guidance/advice that you can offer along the way"


    Ewelina - Why did the CEO/COO lose interest at the thought of an employee survey?  What are they afraid of?  Or do they have a cynical "not worth the paper they're written on" opinion of staff surveys (which is, I have to admit, often backed up by bitter experience).

    I think Nick's right that an analysis and summary report of the last year's exit interviews would be a great starting place to get their attention, if nothing else.  From that point, you can find out what their reservations are concerning an engagement strategy and try to meet them halfway.

  • Hi Robey, 

    Many thanks for your response.  

    I have already done exit interview analysis. The owners are keen for me to prepare them a report each time someone leaves but it just gives them an opportunity to blame some else for this employee departure not them or decisions they make. 

    In a nutshell, they are terrified to see the results of the survey especially when I told them that I will do a survey only if they are ready to see the real results. It's time to be honest and do something about it and they are not ready. They don't want to hear that people don't like their management style. 

     It is very difficult and I was considering leaving due to lack of buy in but I have now made a decision that we don't have to do a survey first if that's the only blocker of the whole improved engagement idea. I have divided my strategy into small chunks and without calling it  'engagement'  I will be slowly completing my plan. 



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