Why Your Best People Will Leave (and 9 Ways to Stop Them)
We write a lot in this blog about how to build and maintain a high functioning work force. But some members of your work force are more valuable than others and often those are the very first people who get restless. As valuable as those people are, they can be equally difficult to keep, because they are the ones who expect the most from their jobs—more compensation, yes, but also more satisfaction, control and opportunity, too. Here are a few tips to help keep them in the fold:
- Cut the red tape.
Unmanageable bureaucracy tends to be a major reason high performers take off, because it stands in the way of the action and results which most excite them. You need some process and rules, of course, but do you need SO MANY? If you don’t know if your bureaucracy is frustrating, ask a high performer.
- Find projects that feed passion. Make them important.
High performers want to feel special (because they are). One way to acknowledge and feed that desire is to let them run with projects they can own, even if their day-to-day tasks are beginning to bore them.
- Pay attention to annual performance reviews.
High performers want feedback—real feedback. If you don’t have a solid annual review plan in place, they won’t know when to expect the feedback they value. Formality and honesty are good things here. It shows the employee you value her and take her seriously, which is exactly what she wants.
- Discuss career development. And follow up.
High performers expect career growth, as they should. If you don’t give it to them, they will go somewhere else. You don’t have to promote people outside their present capabilities, but you do need to give them a clear idea of how they can grow in your organization and what you expect of them to get there. Then you need to follow up regularly.
- Hold them accountable.
High performers generally want to be respected, not coddled. Holding them accountable for their results—in a constructive way—shows respect.
- Surround them with other great people.
Top talent likes working with other top talent. Look around your organization. Are there people whose performance or attitude are holding others back? If you would prefer to employ them, rather than your most valuable people, keep them. If not, you need to find ways to improve their performance, or find ways to let them go.
- Have a vision. Share it.
It’s not enough for a high performer to have a career path within the company if he has no faith in the company, itself. He has to understand where the company is headed and believe he ahs a stake in getting there.
Listening is another sign of respect. And when we say “listen,” we mean to take what high performers tell you seriously, not just “yeah, yeah, I’ll get back to you later.”
- Don’t let them report to weaklings.
Nothing’s more frustrating than reporting to a boss you don’t respect or—worse yet—dislike. Make sure your top performers are reporting to your top managers.
You may have noticed the word “respect” popped up more than once in our list of nine. In the end, that’s the most important take-away: don’t take your top performers for granted; respect them and they will be there when you need them.