Seven Tips for Retaining Your Talent

Attracting and keeping your best performers continues to be not only a smart business decision but a very strategic one that all companies invest in. While some believe attracting talent is the first hurdle, nothing is more crucial than retaining the top performers already engaged in your organization. Here are seven tips for ensuring that your top talent not only sticks around, but also continues to deliver discretionary effort, day in and day out.

  1. Tell them how they’re doing. The best job you ever had was when you know at the end of every day how you did.  Give feedback on what it is specifically they’re doing that contributes to their success.  Let them know the subtle nuances in how they approach their work that makes a difference.  Use graphic feedback to show trends and progress over time.
  2. Be clear on your expectations. You are more likely to get the desired outcome when you clearly articulate precisely what you want.  And that, in turn, will make it easier for your direct reports to succeed.  Specify timeframes, milestones, key elements, and level of effort expected.
  3. Let them know the impact of their work.  As you hear even anecdotal comments about their work or the impact that it’s having, share that quickly.  As you see benefits to the broader organization or to customers, make sure they know too.  You likely possess a sharper ‘big picture’ perspective of the importance of their work.  As they build their own bigger-picture perspective, their good work becomes self-reinforcing.
  4. Ask for their input and advice. For many, there is no better demonstration of respect or that you value their opinion than to be asked what one thinks.  When people feel appreciated for ideas and suggestions, it will only lead to stronger engagement in their work and in the organization.
  5. Offer growth and learning opportunities. Identify specific areas for development or improvement and discuss projects or assignments that will provide the opportunity for them to “build those muscles” with your support.  Challenge your direct reports to identify mini ‘stretch’ opportunities and then set them up to succeed.  Don’t expect perfection, and reinforce incremental progress.
  6. Give them responsibility. Look for opportunities to have your best performers mentor others. Ask them to step into aspects of your role when you need coverage. If they are motivated by independence and autonomy and have earned it, then use that as a reward.
  7. Let others know how they’re doing. Engage others in providing positive reinforcement to your team members.  Prompt those impacted by their efforts to let the performers know why it’s important.  Bubble up success stories to your bosses and prompt them to recognize the good work happening throughout the organization.

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Posted by David Uhl

As senior vice president with more than 25 years of consulting experience, David is a seasoned executive coach, change leader and valued partner who leads his clients in applying behavioral science technology to accelerate and sustain organizational change and performance improvement. Known for his flexibility and adaptability, David has built longstanding relationships with those he serves across every organizational level. In his personal time, David is a ‘retired youth sports coach’ who enjoys watching his three teenage children compete in football and lacrosse; and rooting for his beloved Browns and Longhorns.