Holding on to Your Top Performers
Top performers almost always exceed the performance of average workers by a significant percentage. But developing top team members takes a lot of time, money and effort, so it's in your best interests to hold on to them!
Here are a few easy to practice tips on improving the workplace atmosphere and your relationship with top performers that will maintain their commitment to you.
Get to know them
Take a little time to get to know your team members. Try and meet their partner if they have one, find out what their interests and personal goals are - right now are they interested in buying a house or saving to travel the world? Being able to relate personally is great for morale and a sense of belonging. This is good advice to use with all your team.
Understand what drives them - and provide it
Second, you have to understand what drives top performers. There are 5 common drivers operating in the workplace - achievement, recognition, money, security, and status. You will find that top performers tend to draw their motivation from the first two sources. Rarely is money a critical influence (though of course it is an influence!). And security conscious people don't over perform - they sit and play it safe. Status seekers you'll need to watch. They can be high performers, but a team member driven by status is more interested in the job title on their business card than anything else. They want to rise quickly in the organization, and faster than their peers. Status seekers generally are not a positive influence in a business, as they often put their own interests ahead of those of the organization. To get the best out of a status seeker and still maintain a good culture in the business you'll need to:
Clearly indicate how they might achieve promotion
Emphasize the type of behavior they need to display in order to achieve promotion - i.e., great team work and helping others, not just results
Clearly indicate that any anti-social behavior will definitely not lead to promotion.
Encourage input and participation
Top performers are ideas people - and they need a channel for getting them across and recognized.
You probably have a mechanism for gathering ideas from the team - when you get one from one of your top performers give it serious consideration. Then, if it's viable, make sure that due recognition is given for it. Recognition is just what these people thrive on. Good communication is a hallmark of high retention firms.
With top performers you can take this further and get even more buy-in by giving them the opportunity to actually be involved in the decision making processes of your company. If they feel they have a say in the way things are going they are more likely to stay interested and committed.
Top performers are that way because they like challenges - allow boredom to set in and they'll be looking for something more interesting elsewhere. It may be a challenge for you to design work so that this happens, but if you can't, then you can't expect them to stay. Even in tight labor markets a top performer has the initiative and belief in their own ability to risk trying elsewhere.
Compensate them well
While money isn't what drives a top performer, the recognition represented by a bigger pay packet or bonus is. A salary system based on performance is not only perceived as fair by people but will allow you to structure it so there is a recognizable advantage for top performance. When you deal effectively with poor performing employees, and this should be in all areas, not just compensation, your actions reinforce your commitment to a high performing culture and help generate goodwill among your better performers.
Don't fetter them
Give them the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Yes, you have to watch expenses carefully - every expense. But if your expense cutting causes your best people to wish they were somewhere else, then they soon will be.
And don't bog them down in form filling and other bureaucratic tasks. There's nothing more frustrating, when you clearly see the big picture, than to have someone insist that every decision must be pre-approved in triplicate. In too many workplaces empowerment is a myth. Wherever possible loosen up the bureaucracy and provide room to move for those who have shown they can be trusted with responsibility.
Without question, maintaining the passion and commitment of your top performers requires exactly the same behavior from you. So a lot of it comes down to you - your vision, and the ability to infect others with it, your behavior in recognizing and rewarding top performers, and your passion for excellence. You must believe in them, you must be proud that they are working for you, and you must give them due recognition.
Success in retaining top people ultimately turns on creating a culture that nurtures high performers. There's a lot of truth in the old saying - ' Employees don't quit their jobs, they quit their bosses' .