Retaining Top Talent in 2010

In my prior post, "Will Talent Head for the Door?," I started to summarize some of the key themes that emerged in response to my question on LinkedIn, Will Talent Bolt?

Most of those who responded said Yes there will be some movement. But there was also agreement that the best employees will stay in those organizations that demonstrate the right way to manage and retain top performers.

Let's distill some of the chief elements of the Right Way to take care of your top talent so that they do not head for the door.

1. Leadership - Art Worster wrote: "Good leadership has to be based upon principles of honesty, openness, and personal integrity. Many bosses can create the illusion of leadership skills in good times when conversations tend to be around positive things. However, when things get difficult, they tend to become insecure in these conversations and hide behind various screens. This is the time that true leadership steps out and truly leads. I think that hard times tend to evaporate the illusions and create a group of people who, having seen the lack of depth in their leaders, are ready to look for a place where personal integrity is not based upon good times."

2. Caring and Communication - Susan Schwartz wrote: "If you have treated talent fairly and kindly, given people interesting projects, not taken advantage, and communicated with them sensibly about the company's conditions, when the recession ends (fingers crossed), if you communicate again, bring them up to date on pay and keep the interesting work flowing, many will say "well, they played fair with me; why should I jump ship to a place where they might not?" Companies that treat talent as commodities that have to be chained to their desks not only will lose them when they have other opportunities, they probably deserve to."

Patty Foster wrote: "All too often, concern and care is given to the job applicant/candidate and then once he/she is aboard, there isn't a lot of attention given to them as an employee. People want to be valued! So part of the key to retaining talent is to appreciate your employees, get interested in them, ask them for their opinions on how to make your organization better and implement their suggestions when possible. Sometimes just the smallest thing can make huge differences to employees. Also, having the ability to help employees balance work/life can go a long way to the creation of job satisfaction. Employees don't leave companies, they leave managers. Train your managers, get rid of deadwood managers, ask managers to get up and get involved with their direct reports, bring enthusiasm to meetings."

And Joseph Paris wrote: "If you treat people poorly, then you will never create a loyalty. If you treat people fairly and communicate, then they are more inclined to stay because they believe they are a part of the organization and not just a 'resource.' "

3. Challenge: What kind of environment is best suited for top talent to thrive? In a word, challenging. Lisa Mortimer wrote: "Talented people are usually in high demand. Talented people are not impressed by anything but talented leadership. I have left perfectly good-paying jobs to take a star spot in a struggling start-up, or to risk everything starting up a new product because the challenge is there. Talented people live for the challenge (that is how they become talented in the first place), fairness (workload) in the workplace and talented leadership. If they leave, it usually isn't money; it's usually one of these."

4. Real Stake - Craig West wrote: "Many employees wish to own part of the business they work in and for. Look at profit-sharing or employee incentive planning as a means to retain key staff and create a valid leadership option for them. There is nothing better than having key employees within the business beginning to think and act like business owners in the same way that you do. Give key people a stake in the performance and success of the business. Imagine if your employees were able to think and act and innovate like business owners not employees."

Finally, David Kennedy wrote this nice wrap-up: "The drivers for change by employees are if they feel the company is not behind them, have not shown they value their work and have not provided opportunity to grow professionally or recognize them for their accomplishments."

OK Business Leaders: Now you know what you must do in 2010. Will you do it?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Dec 31, 2009


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