Leaders Know Talent Wins: 4 Strategies to Ramp Up Retention

Trust: Photo by notsogoodphotography

Trust: Photo by notsogoodphotography

Successful organizations focus on people as well as profits, often built with talented staff that take action as co-owners of the business. Twenty-first century talent retention practices can build greater success in your organization. Here’s are 4 ways leaders can help this happen:

1) Check your “hire smart” bench strength & compensation
Nothing breeds success like talented staff and the ability to pay them at the going market rate or better. Nothing works right if you don’t have these two basics as your foundation. Make sure your hiring process is top-notch using behavioral and performance based questions and follow-through. Don’t hesitate to make a change if staffing mistakes have been holding your business back from success.

Deb with Red Cross staffer, during a speed coaching demo for International Coaching Weeks, 2014

Start with a great conversation, and high performance can follow for individuals and teams. For coaching support, see Deb’s coaching page.

2) Tune how you give feedback
First, GIVE the positive feedback. So many leaders do not do this.  Whether you are a colleague, peer leader or supervisor, 75% of people like to hear specifics about their good work, AND 25% do not. Tune what you say to your peers and direct reports to offer, in general, a 5-1 ratio of positive as well as performance improvement feedback.

Based in recent research,  the 5-1 ratio creates credible feedback that builds intrinsic motivation and high performance teams. For the other 25% make sure they have resources and your full support to develop and excel. When they ask for something, do your best to be responsive, and go the second mile to offer support. They don’t need much more than that.

3) Have performance conversations

No, we cannot make performance appraisals objective.  Ever.

No, we cannot make performance appraisals objective. Ever.

The old performance appraisal is a relic from the 20th century industrial age. Instead, have ongoing, informal performance conversations for both groups and one on one. Develop agendas that include the success of peers and teams as well as the bottom line in your organization.

4) Have a retention conversations

Retention conversations or “stay interviews,” a term coined from research by Dr. John Sullivan, a former talent executive, happen along with regular conversation with your peers and teams. These conversations include questions like:

  • What do you like best about working here?
  • What do you consider to be the best work you’ve ever done here?
  • If you could do your best work of your life, what would that be?
  • If you could do your best work with no limits on place, time, money, what would it be?
  • Are your talents and skills fully used here? If not, how could it be different?

One simple action step would be to share this article and references with your staff or team and have a conversation. Sample action steps that others have used for talent development actions include:

Mile marker, photo: Jesus Villanueva Flickr cc

Mile marker, photo: Jesus Villanueva Flickr cc

• Asking, “What’s working? What isn’t?”  Then discuss the implications of the responses.
•  Jointly developing a goal with your staff that you all believe will increase your retention success (co-own planned change).
• Developing a few smart measures for success such as cost to implement or not implement (feasibility).
• Setting one or two easy initial actions, low-hanging fruit.
• Setting milestones on the calendar, check in on measures
• Making a commitment to keep what works and stop what doesn’t work

What retention strategies have you tried, tested and found useful?  You can make a difference in the work life and success of your staff and your organization by caring enough to stop what doesn’t work and trying something new that has a track record of working well. ~  Deb

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