Thursday, December 07, 2006

7 tips for retaining high performers

Good, brief, article on about steps you can take to retain your high performers. I would argue that in addition to increasing retention, these practices help your organization increase its reputation, and thus attractiveness to potential recruits.

So what are some of the suggestions?

- Most of the time things aren't "life or death", so don't stress out. (Note: people working in the medical profession or on a battlefield please disregard)

- Create a comfortable environment that fosters creativity (hmm, sounds familiar for some reason)

- Involve people. I agree as long as this doesn't include three meetings a day.

- Show that you value work-life balance.

- Subsidize training opportunities. I am a big believer in this lever; it's a leap of faith to assume your next employer will be as generous.

- Create a fun, relaxed environment. Again, this is easier said than done in some situations, and you don't want to create a noisy, distracting environment. I say focus on the small stuff (e.g., brief joking around), avoid "fun committees" like the plague.

- Host regular social events. In my experience this typically leads to collective groans. If the group is already fairly cohesive, this can help to encourage that. But if your group isn't getting along, I don't think a social event is going to magically transform them into a lean, mean, productive team.

If I may, I'd like to add...

- Listen to your workers, and then do something about their concerns/suggestions, even if it's "we hear you, thank you, but we've decided to go a different direction because of X."

- Select supervisors because they have some modicum of people skills, not just because they're the technical expert. Surveys repeatedly show that poor supervision is high on the list for disgruntled employees.

- Related point: make sure your supervisors know how to supervise. This means training, and not just any 'ol training--intense, lengthy workshops with examples and role plays.

- Recognize good performance. Surveys also reveal that folks often feel undervalued. This doesn't have to take the form of a formal recognition program; in fact most of the time all people want is the occasional pat on the back for a job well done.

- And the corollary: do something about poor performers. Letting folks get away with doing less work for the same pay tells high performers that you're spineless, or worse--that you see no difference among your workers.

These may all seem like no-brainers, but I continue to be surprised at how many organizations fail to put these practices into place.

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