Retaining Your Top Talent

It's Crazy Out There

It's never been harder to hire talented staff right now. Every person I know who is looking for work is finding work. And often multiple offers. Even crazier is that they're getting offers that are incredible – mostly because even those hiring companies are struggling to find and hire top talent. The worst thing you can do is create a situation where your team wants to take off. So tonight I thought I would share some tips on retaining your top talent. Here are four of my best strategies.

Retaining Your Top Talent

I normally post leadership posts on my other blog, but today I decided to share it here because of the conversations I was having at work today with my buddy Brian. If you want to keep your top performers, there are four strategies you have to get right. We talked about three today and I realized I missed the last one. But Brian already knows this stuff. So I thought I would share it with you.

Keep Them in the Middle

Never doubt that a top performer knows whether they're working on something that is at the core of what's critical to the business or whether they're working on some initiative that may not ultimately matter to a company.

They know.

And because they know, when they realize the team they're on, or the leader they're following, or the division they're in – whatever the issue – is no longer at the center of what's important, they'll start looking for other work.

If you want to keep your top performers, keep them in the middle of what's important. When they get an email from the CEO, the work they're doing better be listed as a key initiative.

Your job is to navigate the context to make sure that you're working on some of the most important bets that a company is making. If not, prepare to lose your top talent.

Connect Them to the Top

Another component of retaining top talent is to be strategic with your assignments. As you assign people to projects, make sure you don't have a “pet” employee who gets all the choice assignments.

Retaining top talent requires that you spread the hang time around so that each top performer gets time with an exec. What you're looking for is to make sure that your executive team knows who they are, recognizes their talent and knows their name.

Supervisors who hog the glory will quickly realize the mistake they've made as their top folks start looking for other jobs. Life is too short for people not to feel like they're important, and getting connecting with the leadership team is one of the ways to make it happen.

Create Learning Opportunities

Never stop learning. You've heard it, right? But then what do we do? We create specialists who have deep knowledge in one area. As a result, every project or problem in that space gets assigned to the same person.

The consequence is that they don't have 5 years of experience. They have 1 year of experience 5 years in a row. That's how you create an environment that top talent walks away from.

Instead, invite others to learn what your top talent knows so that they can be assigned new things they have no knowledge about. Your high performers love the opportunity to slow down, learn something new, and not work on the same routine assignments all the time.

Retaining Your Top Talent Also Requires Staff Adjustments

The last tip, the one I told you I forgot about earlier today in my conversation at work, was one I didn't need to specify to Brian. But I do need to share it with you.

The fastest way to watch your top performers leave is to limit the consequences to your poor performers.

Retaining your top talent requires that you have integrity about where the bar is set. They already hold themselves at a high bar. But if you lower the bar because you're unable to keep people accountable, or conflict avoidant, you won't see the poor performers take off. You'll see your top players take off.

Did I Mention I'm Hiring?

If you're a top performer looking for a new home, I should let you know I'm looking for a developer to join me at LearnDash. Of course, if you're a top performer looking for a new home, and I'm not hiring for your role, I'm happy to hook you up with others.