Clint Pulver’s Advice on Building Lasting Loyalty in Your Team

On May 13th, our ‘Inner Circle’ members were joined by Clint Pulver as our newest ‘Book Club’ guest author to discuss how to create an organization your people never want to leave.

Clint Pulver is a professional keynote speaker, author, musician, pilot, and workforce expert. He’s a leading authority in employee retention and author of “I Love It Here”.

In this Book Club interview he shared some of the strategies that can be used in order to have your team stay longer and how to build an organization that people never want to leave.

Phil discussed with Clint how Inner Circle members can build a practice and team to be proud of, and people who are proud to be a part of it and, when asked about working there, state proudly “I Love It Here”.

Here are some key highlights:

Clint’s story begins with how “I Love It Here” came to be when 5 years ago he was in NYC with a group of executives. He learned from a business owner he met who said “you’ve gotta adapt or you’re gonna die”. But in discussing how he worked with people, he saw no reason to change because he got results.

That’s when Clint wondered if the employees felt the same. So, he approached one of them and candidly asked “what’s it like to work here?”.

His reply: “I can’t stand it here.” Another 5 out of the 6 employees he spoke to said they were all planning to leave.

His conclusion? The perception of how happy staff are is often very different to the reality. So he decided to start the “Undercover Millennial” program. Walking into companies and talking to staff as someone who is thinking of applying to work there and asking staff, “what’s it like to work here?”

And they told him EVERYTHING.

Because he was just a regular guy thinking of applying to work there.

The result is that in 5 years after speaking to over 10,000 staff in 181 organizations, Clint now uses this first hand research to connect organizations with what makes their staff say “I Love It Here”.

The power of creating an environment of belonging

That moment in the New York store triggered Clint to want to wake leaders up to the fact they may be disconnected from their people. But also to understand why the ones who loved their job felt that way.

The goal was to go back to leaders and be able to say and understand why their staff were so happy.

Attracting great people into your practice

Phil asks Clint about how you can not only create a great working environment in your practice, but attract more great people – an issue we definitely see in hearing care.

His answer: great mentorship.

Clint defines mentorship as the person taking care of people. Someone who wants you to thrive and has your best interests in mind.

“I like myself best because I’m with you.”

And in reality, employees are waiting to ask:

“Let me know when it gets to the part about me.”

Taking a genuine interest in people is key. In what they want to achieve in work and at home. Their life outside of work.

No significant loyalty will happen without significant connection.

How to make sure you don’t make a bad hire

Clint says you should always be recruiting. And he advocates having a list of 3-4 back-ups even if you are fully staffed with great people. Not just those with the right skills, but also those who have an extraordinary attitude.

What happens if one of your staff leaves overnight? Hiring in a panic can be a big mistake, so to have great people already in mind could save you thousands and a lot of stress.

There’s a concern that current staff could feel threatened by this approach, but if you make sure to emphasize that you will always try to hire and promote internally, they will always know they come first.

How do you help grow your people as people?

Creating your ‘dream team’ for your clinic isn’t just about hiring people for where you are now, but it’s about hiring people for where you’re going. That’s where great mentorship becomes important.

Clint advocates for the power of a status interview. Not a performance review, but an opportunity to check and get feedback on how you can create an organization they want to stay in.

Who are my top 1-2 employees who if they left tomorrow, it would put me in a hard spot?

Create a moment with that person where you have a conversation that starts with vocal praise:

“I want to talk about some great things you’re doing”

And then:

“What can I do to keep you here?”

It’s as simple as that. And this question isn’t asked because many managers are scared of the answer. Be honest about the situation if the answer is something you can’t deliver. The key here is to be ready to respond to the answers you’re given.

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The most common need

Clint shares that the biggest priority for people asked is creating a lifestyle. Focusing on the individual gets the most valuable answers in this conversation. Here are the most common answers for what will make a difference:

Vocal praise – giving vocal and public recognition for a job well done
Experiences – tickets to a show for your family, team trips

Making it personal

For new parents in particular, Clint has seen some great examples of a generous and thoughtful gifts and mentions 6 months’ worth of diapers as a gift that meant a lot.

Phil takes this further with an amazing example of an organization who pays for someone to clean their employees’ homes. This is massively life changing for many, as well as a cost saving for them that allows them to live – and work – better.

Building a genuine career path

How can we help staff in our practices to build a career path that they can really see?

In this instance, Clint advises creating small steps after a great status interview and establishing “what’s getting in the way of your success?” Here are the 4 key questions to ask when building this plan:

  1. What’s the overall goal
  2. What does the employee need to do to achieve that?
  3. What are you as a mentor going to do to help them achieve that?
  4. When are we going to review this?

In this instance you’re forced to listen and listen some more. This information is invaluable and the key is not to try to solve it all now, but understand first and explore possibilities next.

Keep it simple

What are the things that you could stop doing to allow you to do more? Could you create a “to don’t” list that means you identify what you can drop that allows you to connect more?

A great mentor will look at all of the “things” they are doing, what is on their “to do” list and prioritize connecting with people on a deeper level. Identifying staff needs is impossible if you’re just doing, doing, doing.

Do you know the names of your staff’s children? Do you know where they’re going this weekend that they’re excited about?

You won’t if your head is constantly in doing. And it will save you thousands in either replacing someone who leaves or dealing with employees whose productivity is low because they think you don’t care.

Mr Jensen

Clint tells us about a school teacher who became a life-changing mentor who identified potential in him. He had a hard time sitting still, tapping constantly, using his pen ambidextrously. Mr Jensen took him aside and said:

“I don’t think you’re a problem. I just think you’re a drummer.”

Employees who say “I Love It Here” talk about these moments. When a boss gave them an opportunity to write a new story in a moment or a sentence. They changed the narrative.

The 4 types of managers

In the book, Clint talks about there being 2 variables to consider when defining effective managers – the standard of the manager and connection of that manager.

  1. The Removed Manager – low on standards, low on connection. Creates disengagement
  2. The Buddy Manager – low on standards, high on connection. Everybody likes them. They want to be liked more than respected.
  3. The Controlling Manager – high on standards, low on connection. Creates rebellion
  4. The Mentor Manager – high on standards, high on connection. Creates respect

“It’s easy right now to see the problems.
But I promise you create a better workplace when you start to see the possibilities.”


These are just some of the key notes from a 90-minute interview with Clint Pulver. The full interview is only available to “Inner Circle” members, but you can view the highlights below.


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