Leadership and Retention: Keeping Top Performers

It’s not just the money!

We are staring down the barrel of impending poaching opportunities at a time when our most valuable employees are simply “tired.” What to do?

1. Anybody who tells you money doesn’t matter… they’ll lie about other things as well. Money isn’t a motivator for most; it’s seldom even a satisfier, but it can be a dis-satisfier. People expect to be paid what they are worth, and if another, reasonable organization offers them 25% more, your pay is the issue.

Fix it now. Get market lines on your compensation, and act proactively – it’s simply too late after they’ve received an offer.

Once an employee receives an offer, you’re on borrowed time. Even if you convince them to stay for the moment.

2. YOU know they’re good, but do THEY know that YOU know?? Top performers know they are top performers. Not necessarily egotistic, they do, however, have solid self-awareness. The question most have is, “do you recognize the value that I bring to this organization??” “Do you give me the recognition that value deserves??” And not just money; there’s personal recognition, peer recognition, intangible rewards, and professional development investments.

All of these tell top performers that you know they are top performers.

3. Ask Them! To quote Tom Peters, “This company had a unique way of communicating; they talked to each other!” Want to know what those top performers really need? Do something really whacko and ask them. That’s right, plain, simple English.

“Say, Top Performer, I’ve been wondering. You do such a good job around here (remember, s/he know this already). I wanted to make sure we were taking care of you properly. What can we do so you will continue to really, really like working here for us?” Top performers are generally reasonable; you won’t hear “double my salary,” or “give me 10 weeks of vacation.” You may hear, “Well, I’d like to spend some time working in R&D;” or “I was hoping to start my MBA, but I’m not sure if the schedule will work…”

Then, to coin a line from Picard, “Make it so.”

Keeping top performers isn’t nearly as difficult as we sometimes think it is. It’s a function of being aware of their value, and ensuring that THEY are aware of our knowledge of their value. Then, do right by them. That’s your best bet in immunizing them against the coming poaching epidemic…

But that’s just me…