leadership development


What’s more important? Reducing your overall turnover, or minimizing the turnover of your best people? As competition for your best people increases due to the global (aka Local!) skilled labour shortage, a focus on keeping your top talent from being poached or leaving (because they’re not engaged enough, or challenged enough, or haven’t got career options, or… well I think you get it)… becomes critical.

In a recent article on Monster.ca’s Recruiting and Hiring Advice, Dr. John Sullivan suggests that high performance turnover is the metric that really matters because these are the most valuable employee population you have. In his article titled, The Ideal Turnover Rate, Dr. Sullivan cites studies that show top performers contribute ten times more for your organization than average performers. Unless you’re Microsoft, who claim the number to be closer to 100 times! What do you think your number is? Dr. Sullivan also states that top firms tend to keep top talent turnover (Okay, that’s a lot of T’s, sorry) below 5%. Absolutely! But how can you keep the metric that really matters so low?


Here are 5 ways we suggest to keep your best performers from leaving:

  1. Ask them what it takes to keep them with your company! Discuss this commonly unspoken topic. Be open and candid with each high performer so you know what they want and need in order to stay. Be candid about what you can and can’t offer them. The dialogue itself will increase the chances of them staying.
  2. Stretch them. Hold them capable of doing great things and offer them jobs, projects work assignments that really stretch their capabilities. Ask them what strengths they have that the company is underutilizing. Then give them a chance to use them.
  3. Aim them. Figure out career options within your organization that excite them and that work for you. That doesn’t have to be upwards either. A lateral move into a different group could really leverage a top performer’s people skills or project management skills even if they are a technical expert.
  4. Acknowledge them. Give them far more praise and recognition that is a) truly deserved and b) given in the way they like to receive it. (Guess what, you have to ask what that is!)
  5. Lead them. Make sure their Boss makes it a priority to coach and develop these excellent employees by giving them feedback continuously. The manager – key employee relationship is often the critical factor when it comes to retention. Train their manager how to coach and give great feedback and to focus on maximizing their potential and keeping them motivated and engaged.

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