How to Retain Employee Talent and Engage Staff

41410103_s.jpgAs a manager, you probably already have discovered the hard way that employee talent is the one resource you have at your disposal that is the hardest to replace. While jobs can always be filled and effective training programs can narrow shortfalls in performance, an occupation that calls for true talent can be hamstrung by any deficiency in that department. The best way to avoid a mad scramble to replace your talented employees as they depart is to never lose them in the first place. Here are a few tried-and-true methods that you may want to employ in the pursuit of holding on to your most talented staff members.

Counsel Your Talent

One of the biggest reasons for employees departing an organization is that they feel that it is a dead end. They receive little or no communication from their superiors unless they are assigned work or have made a mistake. There is no promise of advancement, promotion, or even a gradual increase in responsibility. Counseling may have a negative connotation, but it is an opportunity to establish this communication and chart a career trajectory for your talented employees before they are tempted away by the competition.

A good quarterly counseling session should not only communicate an evaluation of job performance but also:

  • Ask sensing questions regarding job satisfaction
  • Inform about upcoming opportunities that they may apply for
  • Determine fair compensation for past performance and future incentives 

Encourage Competition

One thing that most truly talented people share is a competitive desire to be the best, and one of the most effective ways to harness this drive is to recognize your high performers. This could take the form of contests, idea generation exercises or even monthly awards. The important thing is to encourage an atmosphere of healthy competition where talented employees will push each other to perform. This not only has the added benefit of incentivizing higher performance but establishes competitive relationships that may encourage talented staff members to stay on if for no other reason than to come out on top next time.

Cultivate Unsolicited Contributions

Another quality of talented people is that they live very complex inner lives. They often don't stop working when they clock out for the day, and they certainly don't stop being creative. Making that creative fire burn for you may require looking beyond completion of assignments and opening up to unsolicited ideas and pitches. Letting your staff know that you want to be the first one to hear their ideas and valuing all contributions - regardless of whether or not you end up running with them - is a great first step toward fostering the kind of work environment where creative individuals feel that they can flourish. 

Refine Talent With Training

Talent can only carry you so far, and the talented know this better than anyone. Offering voluntary training opportunities to improve skills or introduce employees to new certification benefits your workforce in more ways than one. Allowing time away from daily job duties to focus on development gives the creative brain a little break from the daily grind and may even be a source of all-too elusive inspiration that is sure to show in their work when they return to duty.

In the end, employee talent may ultimately chase the dollars to the highest bidder, but this is most likely a factor that is out of your control. By taking these steps and creating an environment where contributions are valued, competition is prized, and advancement is encouraged you position yourself as a company that any staff member will think twice before leaving for greener pastures.

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