Or do you tend to yield? Do you give power away to your talented people?

Veronika, a manager in a global drug research and development company, woke up one morning and recognized that 20 percent of her employees were doing 80 percent of the thinking. She was concerned for a number of reasons:

  • The 80 percent of her employees who weren’t really using their creative and intellectual abilities also seemed to be disengaged or just going through the motions at work.
  • The competition would gain an edge if her company didn’t use talent better, get more creative, and stay on the cutting edge.
  • She and a handful of thinking employees were overstretched and spent much of their time answering questions and meeting with others to solve their problems.
  • She had lost some talented employees and learned in the exit interviews that they were not being challenged enough and had grown bored.

Veronika knew she needed to do something and do it soon.  So she hung this sign on her door:

What? That’s it? Well, yes, basically.

Veronika explained to her employees that she had been underserving and undervaluing them by answering all of their questions and giving them step-by-step direction. So when people came through her open door and asked their questions as they always had, she pointed to the sign and asked them powerful, thought-provoking questions like these:

  • What do you think the problem is?
  • Who do you think should be involved in solving this issue?
  • What are the choices we have?

These questions empowered people to solve problems creatively, to lean on each other instead of on the boss, and to come up with multiple options.

She gave encouragement and praise as people struggled to produce outstanding, creative solutions and new approaches. Her team’s productivity and retention rates surpassed all others in the organization.

There is more to Veronika’s approach than meets the eye. The “No Answers” sign could be an annoyance if the follow-through did not include key elements:

  • Trust your employees to come up with the answers. Even if you would have done it another way, consider the approaches they create and support them all the way.
  • Manage your reactions when you yield and they crash! Collaborate with your empowered employees to learn from the mistake.
  • Stop micromanaging.  Let go.  Stop looking over their shoulders.
  • Give the spotlight away. Share the stage and the applause with your team members.

Yielding will increase the odds of retaining your best people. As you give people more power to create, make decisions, and truly affect the success of the team, their job satisfaction (and your odds of keeping them) will go up. At the same time, your ability to compete successfully and accomplish your business goals will increase.

You have phenomenal power to yield. Try it and see what happens.


Beverly Kaye is the Founder of Career Systems International. Sharon Jordan-Evans is the President of the Jordan Evans Group. This blog post is based on concepts from Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. This bestselling book provides twenty-six strategies to keep talented employees happy and productive. In addition to updating and revising all information for the fifth edition, the authors have included more international stories and statistics. Available January 2014 on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere!