Retaining Top Talent for Organizational Success
At the IPMA conference in Costa Mesa this June, I led a ‘Bring Your Own Problem’ round table with the government sector. We started the session with everyone introducing themselves and sharing one problem they have been experiencing recently. I was a little bit surprised that almost everyone there mentioned staffing as their number one concern. Many of us seem to have staff that is getting close to retirement and not a big talent pool to draw on for their replacement. So what’s the answer?
One tactic we can use is to make sure we don’t lose people for the wrong reasons. How do we make sure we retain them as long as possible? Here are my top 5 strategies for retaining great employees:
- The number one reason people leave their jobs is because of their supervisor. Or to put it another way, people quit their bosses, not their jobs. So make sure your supervisors know the importance of getting to know their employees and building relationships, being fair and consistent across the board, and getting them proper training.
- Did you know that many employees decide whether or not they will stay with a job based on their experience in the first few months? It’s really important to have a solid on-boarding program for employees. You should develop a training program that ensures the employee has all the tools they need to be successful - the technical training as well as the cultural. Assigning a work buddy to help them integrate with other employees can help ensure success.
- Make sure you’re providing opportunities for growth for your top performers. The obvious way to provide opportunity is through promotions, but it can also be done through things like leadership development programs, attending conferences, and selecting them for task forces where they can use their creativity to implement new ideas.
- When it comes to your employees, who are the ones that consume most of your time? In many cases, it’s the employees who are not performing well. Just think about all the time that’s spent on disciplinary actions and coaching of problem employees. What would happen if we changed this around and spent more time on the employees that we want to stay? We do exit interviews when employees leave, right? So why not do ‘stay interviews’ to get them to stay? If we invest our time in them, it makes them feel more valued and they are prone to stay longer. When we do ‘stay interviews’ with employees, we ask them questions about their goals, what experiences they enjoy most at work and what they would like to see in the future. Having these discussions lets them know that we want them to stay around and hopefully delays their exit interview.
- Finally, one of the most important things we can do for our star employees is get rid of the dead weight in our organization. As hard as it might be, it’s not fair to the employees who come to work every day doing their best to have to work side by side with negativity and/or incompetence. You have to make sure they’ve been given every opportunity to be successful. But once you’ve done that and they have chosen not to perform at the level needed, quit spending your time on them. Let them go and find someone in their place that’s up to par with the rest of your staff. You’ll be so glad you did.