We have previously discussed how to build a successful startup team. Today, we’re going to talk about how to retain your talented team.

Management is difficult, especially when it comes to setting boundaries. It’s like a professional version of parenting – how do you strike the right balance of freedom and discipline? It’s not an easy task, but there are certain workplace rules that can turn managers into dictators – and that’s when good employees start leaving.

Remember that people like to be trusted.

Look at Google: they believe their employees will be loyal and productive if treated with freedom and transparency. And clearly, they’re onto something! The Vice President of people development at Google says, “It’s less about the aspiration to be No. 1 in the world, and more that we want our employees and future employees to love it here, because that’s what’s going to make us successful.”

Here are some ways to help you retain your strong team.

Hire Well-Balanced Managers

Employees are people, not machines – although some managers struggle to remember this distinction. Hire managers who can balance being professional with being human; managers who understand people have Bad Days or make mistakes or need to be told to take a break despite a looming deadline. Compassion will enable managers to deal with high-stress demands without treating their staff like robots.

Share the Big Picture

Knowledge is power. When distributing work among employees, be aware that isolated tasks can be difficult to complete without context. Every cog in a company likes to know what machine it’s powering – so take time to explain the desired end result and how each employee will contribute to that, even if it’s a low-end or simple task. You’ll get more comprehensive results when everyone feels valued and informed.

Acknowledge Effort (not just results)

Try not to get caught up only looking at end results. Reward employees for finished products, but don’t forget to acknowledge the time and energy devoted by staff on other projects or everyday tasks. Also be careful not to only praise project coordinators – entire teams put effort in. React to that – thank them – and they’ll be much more likely to stick with you and continue working hard.

Offer Room for Growth

If there’s nowhere to go but out, you’ll lose your ambitious employees. People like to know that they can progress. Avoid rules that prevent promotion for a certain time after an employee starts. These can be motivational wet blankets.

Don’t Micromanage Employee Leave

Admittedly, there should be processes for applying for annual leave so tasks can be redistributed in time, and yes, if an employee is sick every second Monday, there’s probably something fishy going on. But if someone is ten minutes late once in a while, don’t give them a hard time. Same goes for when an employee takes sick leave: trust them enough not to hound them for a certificate.

You could even let employees take an hour here and there to attend medical appointments, without deducting sick leave. This shows trust and compassion, and encourages them to work harder when they’re in the office.

Encourage Self-Expression

A few trinkets on a desk, a poster on the wall – these can make employees feel comfortable with who they are in the workplace. If you put too many restrictions on their personal working spaces, they won’t feel like themselves and they won’t like being there. Then they’ll leave.

Trust Online Activity

Social media policies are a great replacement for restricted internet access. Allow your employees to spend their lunch breaks on sites like Facebook or YouTube. Depriving employees of simple enjoyment while simultaneously showing you don’t trust them to consume social media responsibly…well, that’s not going to create a happy workplace culture.

This also applies to mobile phone usage. If you notice an employee overstepping the bounds of fair use, discuss the matter one-on-one, instead of applying a blanket ban on mobile phones. That won’t do anyone any favours.

In conclusion, treating your employees with trust and respect will generate positive, hard-working employees who love where they work!