I recently had a discussion with a client about the current employee situation in his company. Naturally, we got talking about retention, onboarding and the high staff turnover rate.

The way he pronounced the word “Fluktuation” (German for “turnover”) sounded a little strange to me. I wondered if it was just his dialect or the poor virtual acoustics. Even as I was pondering this, I began to like what I was hearing. 

Now you may ask, what exactly was I hearing?

To my ears, it sounded as if he was talking about staff “FLUCHTuation” (“Flucht” in German means “flight” or “escape”). 

And that made a whole lot of sense to me.

Not only did a recent Gallup study prove it, but countless conversations with employees come back to this very point: Employees quit. Because of the heavy workload, bad management, a bad work environment, and more.

But is it really always a flight response? I think the answer to that question is critical when it comes to identifying the levers that need to be pulled. Because it is important to distinguish between the following aspects:

Is it a movement “away from” something or rather “toward” something else? I think that makes all the difference. Because the motivation to quit is completely different in those two cases. Someone who wants to move “away” from my company has clearly gone through a great deal of suffering that has made them realize that no matter what they find elsewhere, it can only get better! Someone who is moving “toward” another position in another company has recognized what they want in terms of advancement, what position and task ignites their passion, and is offered exactly that opportunity in another company. 

Therefore, depending on the reasons why people quit, it’s possible to deduce what specific change measures should be considered or even implemented in the company. The quitting is only a symptom of something. And it is precisely this “something” that we need to investigate – and it’s where we need to start.

The motivational situation or flight movement of employees can be uncovered by simply asking them. In my experience, people tend to answer this question honestly, which means that the employee is making a valuable contribution to the development of your company on their way out. Does that make sense to you?

By the way, when I told my client what I’d heard, he clarified that he really meant “employee turnover.” But he also liked my “misunderstanding” and it got us even deeper into discussing the options on the table.

Need a sparring partner on this topic? Feel free to contact me. I look forward to a lively exchange of ideas and interesting conversations, so that together, we can outline creative and customized solutions for you.

Wishing you stimulating discussions!

Go for it,

Your Crisis Manager

Anke Stein Mitarbeitermotivation Mitarbeiterbindung

You may have accepted my invitation from the September blog and reflected on how often you communicate with your employees and, above all, on what basis these conversations take place. Have you asked about and exchanged mutual wishes, needs and expectations? And what was the result of your reflection?

Perhaps you’ve also wondered where my recommendation for conversations of this kind comes from? To answer this question, let’s turn to an insight by German neurobiologist Gerald Hüther. He has explored the question of how we should ideally deal with goals and their respective meaning for employees, what effect this has on motivation and thereby, ultimately on employee retention, too.

Gerald Hüther has coined a “growth and relatedness” model. He assumes that goals provide orientation and can thus serve to motivate. These goals should be set interactively in a discussion between the manager and the employee. Of course, they should be based on the goals of the department and company and should be designed in a meaningful way. Why meaningful? Because, according to Gerald Hüther, motivation arises from the relationship to the goal.

This relationship to the goal must be experienced by the employee as meaningful and include a personal growth perspective in the sense of a development perspective. Of course, only the respective employee will be able to tell whether a certain goal seems meaningful to them and truly worth striving for. 

This is the reason why appreciative, emphatic and authentic communication is needed; and this requires trusting framework conditions. 

In such a conversation, it is precisely the questions that exceed the factual that lead to success. Questions about individual needs, values and priorities. If these are explored together, goals can be set. If they are defined and set together, they can give rise to passion and motivation.

According to Gerald Hüther, another crucially important aspect is relatedness. In this context, relatedness means belonging and connection. Employees need to feel related to a group, such as a team, or to a specific person. Ideally, this is the manager. The Gallup study I reported on in the August blog found that it is the connection to the leader that has the power to create employee loyalty – or, as the case may be, not create it.

You may object that you conduct those types of conversations on a regular basis and that your employees often don’t even know or can’t describe what exactly they want or what elements and aspects would create meaning – and thereby motivation – for them.

This is a phenomenon we’re all familiar with, in ourselves, too. How often can we say exactly what we don’t want, but struggle to say what it is we do want? Why should your employees be any different? 

This is another argument in favor of high-quality conversations, which should have an investigative character with open and interested questions. It’s only when employees feel that they’re appreciated that they’ll truly be able to open up and explore with you what they find important. Trust is the key to success.

Of course, this also requires a fair amount of self-efficacy in the employees. What that means exactly and how the development of self-efficacy can be promoted is something I’ll explore in my November blog.

I look forward to seeing you there again.

Go for it,

Your crisis manager


So, what can be done when we realize that employee motivation has deteriorated – or is even completely gone? Is there any way to rekindle or revive it?

Let me put it this way: There certainly isn’t a magic pill that we can just hand out to make everything hunky-dory again. At the same time, we shouldn’t give up or look the other way, either. 

Are you, too, familiar with this particular scenario? I sometimes see companies’ corporate values spelled out on their website, where it says things like “Our employees are our main focus” or “our biggest asset.” Yet, when I talk to the employees, I find out that it’s precisely these same employees who often don’t feel seen at all, and sometimes even laugh at those proclaimed values and shrug them off. Don’t get me wrong – this is of course far from the truth for all companies and fortunately, things are getting better all the time. But it still does happen. And unfortunately, it isn’t all that rare, either.

When asked about this, managers often reply that it’s up to their employees to roll up their sleeves with intrinsic motivation and get to work. After all, these employees chose the job and knew what they were getting into.

In principle, this may be correct. However, from my personal point of view, employee motivation is not a one-way street. It’s precisely the managers whose job it is to show leadership to their employees – and that includes motivating them. Wouldn’t you agree?

Now you may be asking yourself: “True enough. But how exactly do you go about doing that?”

Well, before I go into specific methods, let me ask you one more thought-provoking question:

“Where is this lack of motivation coming from? What caused the employees’ motivation to dip so low like this? What part does the company, the team, the manager or even the circumstances play in this?”

You’ll get your answers – if you haven’t already experienced something similar yourself in your own role as an employee in the company, remember that managers are employees, too – wait for it … in a personal and confidential conversation with your employees. This may sound banal, but it’s true.

Often, employees actually started out highly motivated, but were then disappointed again and again. Promises made by your predecessors were not kept or were put off endlessly. As a result, employees no longer take spoken words and promises seriously. Walk your talk. If you promise something, keep your promise – always!

Here’s an example: If confidentiality is promised, but the employee repeatedly hears that confidential information has been passed on, then trust devolves into mistrust. Building trust takes a long time; destroying it can take no time at all.

Here’s another example: If employees are promised a promotion if they perform their tasks conscientiously, and they do exactly that, but then don’t get the promised promotion for reasons such as, “I can’t get it approved right now,” or “We’ll have to wait another year,” well, what effect do you think this will have on employee motivation?!

With these particular examples, you may think: “Obviously! We would never do that!” But Iet me ask you this: When did you last take a serious interest in your employees? When did you last have an appreciative, open conversation with them seeking to find out what, exactly, they need? What do you know about your employees? What moves them? Where are their pressure points?

I want to be clear here: I’m not looking for a scapegoat, nor am I passing the buck on to you. Often, managers are tasked with cleaning up the interpersonal debris left behind by their predecessor in that role. This can be exhausting and require a great deal of energy. But it is so much more than just work – it’s the process of building interpersonal relationships grounded in trust. And those kinds of relationships pay off – with employee motivation.

This is also confirmed by employee surveys. A trusting relationship with a manager is one of the strongest motivators – it’s the feeling of being seen that creates loyalty and identification with the manager.

I encourage you to engage in fruitful discussions about this issue.

Go for it,

Your crisis manager


Anke Stein Mitarbeitermotivation Mitarbeiterbindung

For quite some time now, the shortage of specialists and executives in Germany has been a major concern for our economy. HR departments and recruiters are finding it more and more challenging to come up with creative ideas and to find new ways of attracting and recruiting suitable candidates. Teams are understandably groaning under the low staff density and are barely managing to complete the tasks at hand. As a result, there’s an increasing focus on prioritizing, and work is either left undone, or its completion takes significantly longer than what would benefit the company and its customers.

Questions around employee retention also tend to arise in this context. Because while it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new colleagues, there’s also a growing willingness among employees to change jobs. And as they leave a company, something important leaves with them: historical knowledge.

That’s where we touch upon a point that is very close to my heart and one that may also concern you, or at least it should: employee motivation. Although it’s only one building block in the context of employee retention, it is an essential one that offers many opportunities, too.

Perhaps you feel the same about this as I do. I was shocked by the latest Gallup study results (from the Gallup polling institute) that found that more than three-quarters of all respondents have little or no emotional attachment to their jobs. Three quarters. Spelled out in numbers: 75%! In my view, that’s more than alarming – and not just for the companies, but for each individual employee concerned, too. 

One aspect of this that we should pay particular attention to is that of people mentally quitting their jobs. Because that is exactly what the respondents did. This is reflected in ever-decreasing, or even non-existent, motivation, low levels of commitment and negative energy spreading throughout the workplace. All of this affects work performance, the team, customer relationships and ultimately, the economic strength of the respective company. It turns out that rising sick-leave figures and a high degree of willingness to change jobs are frequently indicators for this situation. 

We used to worry when employees said they were just doing what was expected of them. Today, many employees aren’t even doing that anymore.

Should we hold this against the employees? Not really. Ideally, we should look for the reasons behind this kind of development and identify how we can actively put a stop to it.

In subsequent blog articles, I’d like to take you on a journey through employee motivation—its various aspects and how to improve it. The goal is to identify the underlying causes of the question and what exactly we can do to motivate employees, drive up their identification with the company and increase overall employee satisfaction at the same time.

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to comment on this blog post.

I look forward to hearing from you. Let’s take a good look at, and then deal with, what’s so important to all of us: human satisfaction and resilience.

Go for it,

Your crisis manager