Good organizations want to retain their best employees if at all possible.

As a budding supervisor I was taught that the number one influencer for employee retention was not the salary and benefits package, but the relationship the employee had with his “one up”–his or her immediate supervisor.

My hospital did not pay the highest wages in the metroplex. The salary and benefits were competitive, but not the highest.

But I was convinced that our culture was superior to other organizations that paid more. There were enough folks who left and eventually came back to make this very believable.

As a supervisor, I had no control over the overall pay scale (though my review was influential in determining raises).

However, I did have control over how I treated my direct reports. I remember telling them, regularly, that it was okay if they needed to leave to take another job somewhere else. They should never fear having to resign–we each have our own situations, and should be given the respect that that autonomy deserves.

But I also told them that I wanted our relationship to be strong–so strong that it would be agonizing to leave.

It would be for them to decide if I ever accomplished this from their perspective. But besides the results on their end of the relationship, I found the idea tremendously motivating on my end–to stay engaged, to work through conflict with wisdom and grace, to try to care for my direct reports with the same care I would love to receive from my boss.

We all contribute to the culture via our relationships–good or bad. And it’s tremendously important.