Retaining Top Performers

Retaining Top Performers

Jeff Wolf, President, RCC

Time to read: 2 minutes

Retaining high-performing individuals is one of the most difficult problems facing organizations today. As the economy continues to improve, and with a tight job market, studies show top performers may not even think twice about leaving and it’s not always about money!

Great organizations view employee retention as a competitive advantage and then work hard to retain their most talented people. They understand that talented people are their most important asset.

What can leaders in your organization do?

  • Invest in your top performers (and others), provide learning and development opportunities with ongoing coaching and training so they can grow and learn new skills and ideas. Then provide a career path with opportunities for growth and advancement.
  • Retention starts with culture. If you want to keep your top talent, you must create an inspiring and energizing culture wherein they can thrive. This means having an organization with shared values, openness, and honesty, thereby creating trust and allowing talented people to voice their opinions and share ideas.
  • Empower and encourage people to aspire to do great things and be innovative and creative, and then reward their successes (and yes, often their failures). High performers want to be challenged, provided with interesting work, and have the ability to make a difference. Leaders must recognize that everyone is motivated in different ways and then take the time to find out what motivates each person. If you can pinpoint these motivators, you can work with your staff to achieve extraordinary results.
  • Continually praise and recognize individual achievements, and make people feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. Be accessible, listen to their suggestions and ideas, and keep them informed of everything that affects them.
  • Be certain you place them in the right positions. All too often we place people in jobs for which they’re not suited. A specific job may not be challenging enough or individuals may lack the required skill sets. We always want to make sure the fit is correct.
  • Every leader must be held accountable for retaining talented people. If you see a pattern of turnover under a specific leader, a red flag should go up. Talented people will not put up with ineffective leaders.
  • Continually look for signs of dissatisfaction. Asking open-ended questions in one-on-one coaching sessions and receiving feedback are great ways to find out if people’s needs are being met. Leaders could ask questions such as:
  1. If the organization could stop doing one thing, what would it be?
  2. What’s challenging about your work?
  3. Where do you get your support?
  4. What motivates you to work harder?
  5. What are the greatest obstacles to getting your work done?
  6. What resources do you need that you currently lack?

These questions will open a constructive dialogue that allows you to discover talented people’s needs. Once you gain awareness, you must work quickly to fulfill these needs.

What We All Know: People don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses!

Retaining top performers requires that leaders in your organization have the right soft skills and tools to lead.  

If they don’t, implement coaching or leadership development programs to enhance their abilities….and do it quickly before your top performers leave!



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