Employee Retention – How to Keep Your Top Performers
Chances are that you know or have seen people that are self-driven. They work well with others and they excel at their job. They’re not clock watchers, they want to excel at everything they do, and they always strive to exceed expectations. Due to their reputation of striving for excellence, they have created an extensive network of cross-connecting with like-minded people and businesses, and their networks continue to grow in size and quality. They’re the ones that everyone wants, and recruiters (or “headhunters”) can’t wait to connect with them. When you have outstanding employees of this magnitude, there is always the concern of losing them, especially to competitors. So the question remains, how do I keep my top performers? In order to delve into this subject matter further, you must first be aware that your perspective of whom your top performers are might be quite different than someone else’s opinion. So, be prepared to back-up your opinion with facts, and be able to express them in a private and/or group setting, and in written form. Remember, you being able to identify top performers can also make you a valuable asset, and yes, a top performer.
Identifying Your Top Performers.
In order to identify your top performers, you must first be engaged with your staff, and spending time finding what they feel is working well, their concerns, and positive/negative feedback. They need to feel connected to you and to the company’s purpose (or vision) in order for them to feel comfortable opening up and sharing. So, build those relationships with your staff and you will build more trust. After striving for more open communication, you may find out amazing things. There are instances where managers assume that one employee was responsible for a great idea, problem-solving a customer service issue, or coming up with huge solution to an existing problem, only to find out that someone took credit where credit wasn’t due. You will also get a better indication of how people within your business react with one another. Who is spreading negativity, who is spreading gossip? More importantly, who works well in a team environment? So, first and foremost, create and nurture those relationships. Remember, communication is key.
Now that you know who your top performers are, you can better address ways to retain them. In order to address this challenge, let’s flip it over and look at this from the top performer’s perspective:
What are their needs?
People are driven by many different motives and what you may assume drives them, may not be it at all. This is where you need to start digging. Make sure you’re having informal conversations with these performers; get to know how they tick. At times, you may want to take them out to lunch, have some one-on-one time with them, and find out what it is that they really want. Do they enjoy working with the business? Why or why not? Figure out what additional training may be beneficial to them and to your company. Are they looking at your company as potential for long-term growth? What are their short-term and long-term goals? If not, when you identify what it is that they want, you can better guide them on this path within your organization. What would motivate them to want to stay longer? Are they open to continuing education? Would your company reimburse for approved courses. As they receive more expertise, they should be able to use it in their current job, and/or along their stated career path within your company. What’s the best part of their job? Their worst? Share a little about yourself and ask them to share a little about them. Find out what do they like to do for fun? When you are asking and sharing, you can find out what their “whys” are and understand its importance to them. Share the good qualities that you see in them.
Do your business needs and their needs match up?
No one can see into the future, but it’s important that your outstanding employees see that they are being groomed for better things. They may not remain if there isn’t a clear path to greater opportunities. So, what are you making available to them? We’ve already discussed extra training, and now is a great time to expose them to the next level of work, to get the flavor of it. You can see how they are responding to this and they are assessing if this is, in fact what they really want too. Continue to keep their goals in front of you both and keep the lines of communication open.
Be a visionary.
Paint a vision of where you see them in one year and in five years. Remind them of the opportunities in your company and connect it to their vision.
Perks. Who doesn’t like perks? A gift card for two to a special dinner, a couple of tickets to their favorite sports team game, an afternoon off so they can go see a play their child is performing in. Raises may or may not be available but potential bonuses might be. Explore different areas and gear them toward their unique perspective.
Name Recognition. When they do something great, make sure you bring it up in the next meeting when appropriate. Introduce them to higher ups in the company so interaction naturally happens. Invite them to your LinkedIn. And, what a great time to ask them if they know of anyone else that might be interested in the company. Top performers know other top performers.
At the end of the day, the more an employee sees that you know who they are, appreciate what they do, open up opportunities and connections for them, and paint the same vision, the more chance you’ll have of retaining those top performers.