Retaining Top Performers in a Competitive Economy


The recession of 2008 is well behind us. Since then the economy has been steadily improving with companies growing and expanding and looking to staff openings with talented managers. It's also the end of the year and the start of a new year coming soon, a time that companies set their hiring plans in motion. Count on executive recruiters putting on a full court press to steal your top performers, many of whom may be considering a change in the new year. And they'll succeed unless you take the necessary steps needed to prevent a company brain drain. Here are some of those important steps:

  •  Top performers need to know their contributions to the company are valued and that they have a clear path for full use of their skills as well as personal advancement. This can best be achieved through one-on-one coaching and mentoring, including taking an interest in their personal lives, and providing stretch opportunities that challenge them.
  •  Chances are you hired these top performers because they had limited opportunities for both professional achievement and promotions in their previous companies. Your responsibility is to make sure they don't stagnate on their jobs or they will jump ship again. Periodic reviews of their work throughout the year are significantly more productive than one year-end review, and allow you to detect any budding frustrations. And remember to keep the lines of communication open between them and you for impromptu discussions.
  •  Eliminate roadblocks that prevent them from doing their jobs. There is nothing as frustrating to top performers as their inability to get the job done because of elements out of their control.
  •  Placing some of these top performers together for various special assignments such as driving innovation, adding products and services, and expanding markets will hold their continuing interest. Top performers work best in a culture where their peers are as intelligent and as focused as they are. They relish an environment of achievement and understand the importance of teamwork.
  •  If at all possible, allow top performers to establish their own schedules. You can rest assured that their own inner clocks are tighter and more demanding than anything you can throw at them. That's why they're called top performers.
  •  Resist the impulse to micro-manage. That's the surest way to drive top performers from your company. Give them enough room to get their jobs done. Step in only when they infringe on the territory of others or when they exceed their authority, especially on financial matters. Other than that let them run their own operations.

Above all, keep this in mind: Retention policy is very broad. Its application has to be tailor-made for individuals. There is no successful one-size-fits-all. Just like every one of your top performers is an individual, so must your motivational approach to each be unique.


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