Retaining top performers requires goal alignment
One of your “stars” walks into your office and closes the door. Your heart sinks. You know something bad is coming. And, sure enough, the person announces that she’s found a new job and is leaving. You ask why and she says, “They gave me a 20% salary increase.”
Now you’ve got to go tell YOUR boss that you lost a top performer. Your first inclination is to simply repeat what you were told: “She left for salary reasons.”
But is that the right answer?
No, because your boss probably won’t buy it. In rare instances people really do leave over money, but usually it’s just a way to save face. Studies show that people usually leave because they’re unhappy with the boss. They won’t come out and say so, but just about everybody knows the truth.
That includes YOUR boss. When a star defects, it hurts your your credibility. If stars repeatedly bail on you, your career as a manager will soon be over.
So how do you retain good people? The secret is to align long-term employee goals with those of the company. Great managers do this instinctively. Their best people see them as “career coaches” who are dedicated to giving them the resources and opportunities they need to achieve their career goals.
Stars are ambitious. The minute they feel that the company — and as their boss, that means YOU — can’t advance their careers, they’ll leave. They’ll quickly find somebody else who’ll be a vehicle to their success.
Here’s a blueprint for becoming a “career coach” for your employees. We call it the C.A.R.E.E.R. Model:
C – Show that you Care about your employees’ goals and aspirations. Never miss an opportunity — in performance reviews or even at the water cooler — to let people know you understand their aspirations and are working to fulfill them
A – Advocate for them. Let your people know that you’re lobbying top management to provide advancement.
R – Recognize them and their performance. Show your people you really “get” why they’re so good.
E – Educate them to help advance their careers. Give your best people training and development opportunities to build their knowledge base — and make sure there’s a clear “line of sight” between the training and their career goals.
E – Engage them – find ways to bond them to you and the company. For example, give your top performers the chance to run task forces or lead meetings.
R—Remind yourself every day that you are the custodian of your employees’ careers. If people see you as the vehicle for achieving their career goals, they’ll never leave you.
photo credit: Bohman
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