Jullien Gordon on Ways to Decrease Turnover and Retain Employees

In Chapter 21 of 21 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, business coach Jullien Gordon answers "What Approaches Are You Taking to Help Organizations Better Retain Senior Management Talent?".  In his human capital strategy work, Gordon uses an interviewing process identify and close the gap between employee life goals and employer work expectations.  Jullien Gordon is a high performance coach and consultant to organizations, individuals and teams who want to increase employee performance, motivation, engagement and retention.  He earned a BA from UCLA, an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a Masters of Education from Stanford University.


Erik Michielsen: What approaches are you taking to help corporations better retain senior management talent?

Jullien Gordon: So I’m actually going to these organizations and leading trainings where I ask key employees these core questions and this can be in a group space, or it can be in a one-on-one space. And then I take that data anonymously, and I look for patterns in terms of what the employees are really seeking for their lives in general and their expectations of their employer, and the reasons why they work, and I take that back to the employer to help them close the gap between what their employees want and expect and their current human capital strategy. And using those insights, we’re able to close that gap and increase retention and lower the turnover rates.

So that’s really what it is, it’s a simple practice but, again, it takes someone who can listen from a non-judgmental space, someone who can listen without any intent for the employee. So I go in to an employer and I speak with an employee, and I’m asking not because I’m even trying to retain you, I’m just asking out of pure curiosity about what your vision is for your life. And to the extent that I can help your employer help you achieve your vision for your life, the more likely it is that you will stay at this particular organization and be engaged.

Erik Michielsen: What have you found surprising about those interviews?

Jullien Gordon: First and foremost, there’s no standard answer, right? So when—especially when I ask the question around the definition of success, an employer might say more money is what’s gonna keep somebody, and they’ve tried that and they might get a little pop in performance for a month or two, and then the performance goes right back down to what it was and so when you really ask people what their definition of success is in the three ways that they measure it, you see all of these unique ways and I’ve done this in audiences of 4-500. And there are very few people who have identical answers. So that’s first and foremost, everybody has unique answers.

And then some of the answers that they have won’t cost the employer a dime to actually implement and support. For instance, if part of my definition of success is building strong relationships and the quality of my relationships, there are through affinity groups and things of that nature, an employer can actually offer that intentionally to their employees, not as a passive thing, but intentionally saying we have these spaces for people who are couples, people who are married with kids, people who are in this life stage and dealing with this, people who have cancer at our organization, whatever. People can find quality relationships in the context of their employer, so and companies aren’t just gonna be about technical things in getting things done and shipping. They are actually gonna be I think in the future more social environments, also like colleges where I am getting a lot of my life needs met through this space. Of course, from 8 to 5, I am working hard to move this organization and the clients from point A to point B, but there are wraparound services that don’t cost employers that much to—that will actually help the employees achieve their definition of success in not only their career but also in their life.