The secret to retaining top performers

by on April 21, 2010 · 6 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe
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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.
RRecognize them and their performance. Show your people you really “get” why they’re so good.
EEducate 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.
RRemind 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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6 Comments on This Post

  1. Anonymous
    April 21, 2010 - 6:54 pm

    While I agree giving, showing respect for your employee’s goes along way in preventing staff from bailing on you and helps to develop dedication. When privileges, cutbacks, recognition do not expand across the whole staff they will bail. Salary, although often touted as not an incentive, is exactly that, but does not in itself cause better retention. Once hired employees will in general make sacrifices for the job because they want to believe that their employer has their back and when times are good they will be rewarded and when they are bad—all will share in the sacrifice. When this trust is betrayed employees will do most anything, including bail for pay—-and hope that someone else will show them more respect.

  2. Anonymous
    April 21, 2010 - 6:54 pm

    While I agree giving, showing respect for your employee’s goes along way in preventing staff from bailing on you and helps to develop dedication. When privileges, cutbacks, recognition do not expand across the whole staff they will bail. Salary, although often touted as not an incentive, is exactly that, but does not in itself cause better retention. Once hired employees will in general make sacrifices for the job because they want to believe that their employer has their back and when times are good they will be rewarded and when they are bad—all will share in the sacrifice. When this trust is betrayed employees will do most anything, including bail for pay—-and hope that someone else will show them more respect.

  3. waynelchristensen
    April 21, 2010 - 2:54 pm

    While I agree giving, showing respect for your employee's goes along way in preventing staff from bailing on you and helps to develop dedication. When privileges, cutbacks, recognition do not expand across the whole staff will will bail. Salary, although often touted as not an incentive, is exactly that. Once hired they will make sacrifices for the job because they want to believe that their employer has their back and when times are good they will be rewarded and when they are bad—all share in the sacrifice. When this trust is betrayed employees do most anything, including bail for pay—-and hopes that someone else will respect them.

  4. waynelchristensen
    April 21, 2010 - 2:54 pm

    While I agree giving, showing respect for your employee's goes along way in preventing staff from bailing on you and helps to develop dedication. When privileges, cutbacks, recognition do not expand across the whole staff will will bail. Salary, although often touted as not an incentive, is exactly that. Once hired they will make sacrifices for the job because they want to believe that their employer has their back and when times are good they will be rewarded and when they are bad—all share in the sacrifice. When this trust is betrayed employees do most anything, including bail for pay—-and hopes that someone else will respect them.

  5. September 10, 2010 - 11:20 am

    Talking about salary with superstars employees

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