Leading On Careers: Retaining Your Best Is EVERYONE’S Job!

Do you know why the US Navy works hard to retain their best and brightest? It’s because they can’t hire senior leadership from the outside. They have to grow their own leaders The Navy, as with any multi-cultural global entity, is in fierce competition for high quality, talented people who want to make a difference for themselves and in the world. How do they do it? They don’t focus on just one area, they focus on the whole experience. What they refer to as Quality of Service.

What is quality of service? Although the Navy doesn’t give an exact definition of what quality of service is, they say is it the aggregate of 3 different quality factors:

  • Quality of Life
  • Quality of Work and Workplace
  • Quality of Leadership

As a 22 year Navy Veteran, I can equate it to the overall experience one has in a job. The “feel” of what you do, how you do it, and who you do it with. At the end of the day, are you satisfied? Do you have what you need? Do you feel like you made a difference? Do you feel like you have a vested interest in what you do and how you do it? Those, to me, are the questions one should answer when thinking about the overall quality of a team member’s service.

Today’s organizations are in the same race as the Navy in working to retain their best talent. It makes sense. Employee turnover is costly. Retention isn’t somebody else’s job, it is everyone’s job. As a former Commanding Officer in the Navy, it was my charge to focus on the Quality of Service of my young Sailors and I charged all leaders in the chain of command to do the same.


How about you and your organization? Are you struggling to retain your best people? Or, if not, are you worried about it? If so, take a few tips from the Navy’s playbook on looking at the overall Quality of Service of your team member and answering these focus area questions.

Quality of Life

Are the pay and benefits commensurate with the job being done?

Is there work/life balance?

Is there an opportunity to learn and develop?

Quality of Work and Workplace

Does the job fit the team member and does the person see the value in what is done?

Is the work atmosphere good (or as good as it can be)?

Does the person have the tools they need to get the job done?

Quality of Leadership

Is the leader engaged?

Do they show care and concern for team members?

Is there trust between the leader and team members?

These questions aren’t always easy to answer and can be even harder to fix. Asking the questions and then working on solutions, however, give us a starting place in addressing the Quality of Service of our team members and retaining the best. Don’t wait for someone else to work on retention, it’s everybody’s job. Developing and retaining tomorrow’s leaders’ starts today!

Want more tips on retaining and engaging your best team members? Bring me in to talk to your leaders about how they can proactively approach retention. Also keep an eye out on future articles that will address (in more detail) each of the quality focus points in this article.


Editor’s Note: This post has been republished with permission from Chip Lutz.

Photo Credit: Chip Lutz

Chip Lutz

Chip Lutz

President and Founder at Unconventional Leader, LLC
Lieutenant Commander Chip Lutz, USN(Ret) works with leaders who want to lead better, get more done and leave a legacy. A retired Navy Officer, he has had two command tours and served as the Director of Security for Naval District Washington, DC during September 11th 2001 – where he was responsible for the safety and security of 25,000 people on 9 different Naval Installations in the National Capital Region during one of our Nation’s most trying times. A seasoned educator and trainer, he is currently adjunct faculty for two different universities and has taught over 20 different classes in leadership, management, human resource development, and organizational behavior. He is the author of 3 books, been published in Security Management Magazine, and has had numerous articles on teamwork and leadership published in Zig Ziglar’s Weekly Newsletter.
Chip Lutz
Chip Lutz



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