8 Ways to Retain Talented Employees and Leaders

Have you ever seen a sports team win a championship or the top prize with average athletes? How often do we see the top athletes request to be traded because they don’t believe their current organization has what it takes to win. The same is true in business but instead of requesting a trade, the employee seeks out other opportunities. To win in business, a company is only as good as the employees and leaders it can recruit and retain. Many organizations can attract top talent, however, are unable to retain them for many years. Here are my tips for how to retain talent.

Create a Great Workplace

This might sound obvious but it is harder said than done. It’s no secret that a great workplace with top talent attracts other top talents. A great workplace boils down to two things. There is a deliberate focus on culture and making sure employees can feel that they are part of something bigger, think Space X, while carefully managing the sacrifice of taking away time from friends and family regularly.


Having Realistic Expectations

When you first bring a capable new hire to your company or organization, expect it to take between thirty to ninety days for them to settle in and see where they feel they fit in. Give them clear but fair expectations for their first months in the job. Allow them time to immerse themselves in your company’s culture and bring feedback and improvement suggestions to you at the end of the time. On the other hand, don’t expect too little from your recruits, especially leadership recruits. Most leaders want to challenge themselves and feel that they are making an impact in a work environment. They expect to be working under high expectations, so make sure you don’t appear to think very little of their abilities.


Don’t Pigeon Hole People into Their Job Description

Let an employee’s contribution go past their job description. While they may have essential job roles to fulfill, you want top talent who will go beyond what’s written on paper and contribute ideas to your company or organization. Encourage dialogue and openly welcome suggestions and communication to ensure inclusivity. Also, don’t break any promises you have laid out as it will create a lack of trust. When it comes to results, ensure you are measuring them objectively and not just counting the hours put into a project or the working day.


Two Way Feedback

Due to the rate of change, no process, product or person is ever perfect. That’s why opening the lines of feedback is extremely critical. In the same way, you would want to hear from customers, you need to be open to hearing from employees and you can do this by asking them questions to elicit feedback.


Example questions are:

  • Are there projects you would like to be part of?

  • What are you finding to be challenging and what are you finding to be easy in your role?

  • Do you feel like you are moving towards your long-term career goals?

These types of questions will not only create rapport but give you valuable and personalized insight.


Give Credit, Apologize and Show You Care

When leaders fail to give credit where credit is due, they can quickly lose interest from their team. When you make a mistake, it’s also good to be able to acknowledge them, apologize and move on. You need to remember the employees are still human, and so you need to treat them in this way. While you aren’t all expected to be a family, they still deserve courtesy and empathy at the appropriate moments.


Promoting the Wrong People

When you promote from within and choose the wrong candidates, it becomes apparent to other leaders in your organization what you are looking for. If you promote people who don’t work hard and aren’t willing to put their all into their position, you will slowly lose excellent people from your team. Another circumstance similar to this is when people fail to fire or break ties with people who should no longer be around. The longer this goes on for, the more likely this will make you lose the excellent team members you have.


Consistency and Setting a Good Example

Talented employees want to work with someone predictable and consistent, who will provide them with clear direction. They want to work with other talented employees who have a good attitude and work ethic. As the company’s CEO, head of an organization, or team lead you should be setting a good example for everyone else. Everyone from the entry-level staff to your top leaders will be watching you closely and will follow your example.


Have a Vision

When there is no vision for where the company or organization is heading and the next steps are unclear, employees will start to lose interest and motivation and find it very difficult to be inspired or inspire their own eams. This can cause a lack of engagement and turning the ship around turns into a herculean effort.


These are my tips for how you can keep your talented team members and leaders. Of course, every company and organization has unique challenges but I truly believe that most of these are universal. Would love to hear from you if you agree, disagree, or want to share some personal examples.


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