After a recent team meeting, I realized I have not been practicing what I preach. We have been so busy these days taking care of clients, filling programs, training SAGE Forum facilitators, keeping our website current, developing marketing initiatives and more – that I have neglected to ensure that we are achieving the authentic alignment so critical to our success.
From my years of experience and observation, I have come to recognize that authentic alignment is the key to attracting and retaining talent. As we navigate challenges from a global pandemic, economic crisis, and high rates of retirement, we face a deeper challenge that’s difficult to see, yet lies at the heart of all others— supporting our people to acknowledge and fulfill their authentic selves. Our deepest calling is to find fulfillment and satisfaction along our path of authentic service and our workplace can provide the perfect opportunity realize this calling.
They say that race car driving is often won not on the track but in the pit stop. In our workplace it is in the pit stop that we take a pause to ensure there is an authentic alignment, an alignment of our values, unique talents, and purpose, with what the organization requires. However, we are usually so focused on driving on the racetrack, we aren’t taking time for a pit stop.
The pandemic was one giant pit stop of self-reflection and even a time to get out of the rat race altogether for some. Indeed, more than 300,000 Canadians have already retired so far in 2022, according to Statistics Canada
, up from 233,000 last year. Plus, the number of people nearing retirement age is higher than ever – more than one in five
Canadians of working age are between 55 and 64 years old. With the average age of retirement now 64, many more Canadians are set to leave their jobs.
I bellieve that this migration of workers out of the workforce indicates that we haven’t ensured an authentic alignment along the way. If we don’t stop to ensure an alliance between their hearts and the work they do, should we be surprised if one day our people resign? Maybe instead of being surprised that people leave, we should be surprised that they stay.
It’s no secret: there’s a mismatch between what employees deeply desire and what the current workplace is providing. We can realize the importance of culture and let people know that they are valued and appreciated. We can offer a competitive salary and benefits package. We can offer opportunities for development. We can promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage work/life balance and a flexible, hybrid workplace. We can administer yet more employee engagement surveys and keep working at communicating openly and frequently. We can address burnout and mental health challenges and offer effective exit interviews.
While all these actions may make an increment of impact, unless we address the issue of authentic alignment, retention of talent will remain elusive.
I propose that we use “pit stop conversations” and “pit stop agreements” to foster authentic alignment and offer here some sample questions for your onboarding or ongoing relationships.
Pit Stop Conversations:
- Our mission is focused on… Why is this mission important to you? What meaning does it have for you?
- Our values are focused on… How were these values formulated in your life? How do they align with your own personal values?
- How do you define success in your work – and in your life?
- Describe your ideal workday… What would you be doing throughout a day in your ideal job?
- Answer this question: “I’m happy when…” (at work and away from work). How does your ideal workday align with what we are offering you here?
Pit Stop Agreements:
- Here are the behaviors we expect from every team member (including us, as leaders) that demonstrate our values… Can we count on you to behave this way here? Here’s what you can count on from me…
- What expectations do you have of us to ensure you will stay engaged? What is the best way to talk to each other if we aren’t meeting each other’s expectations?
- What agreements would we make to each other?
- What kind of environment do you need to inspire you to come to work every day? What do you see as the leaders’ responsibility to make that happen? What do you see as everyone’s responsibility to make that happen?
- Have you ever worked in an organization where leaders did not demonstrate their values? How was that experience? We don’t want that to be your experience here. How can we work together to ensure that we live these values?
- What are things I do that make it hard for you to support me?
The pandemic and current world disruptions have provided fertile ground for reflection. Many are examining the meaning of their lives and where their work fits into the larger context of their existence. If we, as leaders, don’t take the time to pause and have pit stop conversations and make pit stop agreements, we will continue to have a challenge keeping our best people. While the answers to these questions are not always clear, and we must respect that not everyone wants to be this open with their boss, it’s on every one of us to care enough to earn the trust of those under our care and understand and support their deepest calling. Ensuring authentic alignment requires continual intention, investigation, and vigilance.