Keeping Top Talent From Taking Flight
Terry Braverman and Company

Keeping Top Talent From Taking Flight

The short and simple answer: If the best employees continue to be engaged, trained, and appreciated, they are likely to stick around and stay motivated to make the optimal contributions per their capabilities. For the company, it makes for a more productive work environment and saves the company money spent to hire and train new talent.


Paying someone more money, while effective for some people generally isn't the key to earning loyalty. A company doesn't necessarily have to pay more than competitors for top talent, but shouldn't be paying less. Studies have shown that compensation has a threshold. Once an individual has attained a satisfactory income for their efforts, its importance diminishes vis-à-vis the loftier tangibles of growth opportunities and special expressions of appreciation.


Reward programs specifically for high performers should reflect the interests and passions of the individual. What are their favorite hobbies, food, weekend getaways, preferred relaxation and entertainment choices? Generic rewards will not work, especially for the cream of the crop. The best talent is what I call “high impact individuals.” They want to etch their footprints and fingerprints upon the company they work for and be a difference-maker. Speak to their soul, and they will actively listen and respond from their deepest sense of commitment, giving their employer the best of themselves.


Top talent is the first to leave when opportunities are cut to save on the bottom line, or because a bad quarter sparks fear and rumblings of layoffs, or perhaps a new set of managers are hired who ignore the human side of the business of employee retention.  The best talent in an organization needs to be identified, and sought after to solicit their opinions and feedback. Find out what really matters to them, and what drives their motivations. Draw out any negative feelings they may have about their job and ask for their solutions. Make them feel that they are an insider to the decision-making process of management. Invite them to meetings when appropriate. Ask them to be part of a research group to improve upon some area of the organization. Ask them to present findings to senior management. Whenever possible, ask them to collaborate with other top talent. This should prove to be an exciting new challenge. Also of importance is to note how their manager is handling an up-and-coming star in their department.


People in almost any industry will stay with a company if they get on well with their immediate superior, add value to themselves on a continuing basis with the help and support of the company (training), get along well with co-workers and feel appreciated for the work they do (if they do it well), and receive helpful guidance about how to work better in a constructive way.


A company could develop a career path system that parallels the growth of top people with the growth of the company. Inform them with regularity of their impact, perhaps including metrics in the form of units of measurement, as well as the human touch such as inviting the families of top people to special functions and learning the names of their husbands, wives, and kids. Don't wait for an annual review or event to do this.


The best employers understand what it takes to retain their best and invest a human touch to stay connected with them, not around a nebulous notion of corporate loyalty, but around meaningful work, flexible terms, professional and personal growth opportunities, regular two-way feedback, and consistent expression of caring and appreciation. These are what compose a value proposition.


A talented worker who is fortunate enough to work for a value-minded employer may still take their skills elsewhere. But they are more likely to stay when their services are valued and aspirations are nurtured.



“What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter.”


“This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it.”


“We know that communication is a problem, but the company will not discuss it with employees.”


(Senior management memo) "This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the subject mentioned above."


“Lucent Technologies is endeavorily determined to promote constant attention on current procedures of transacting business focusing emphasis on innovative ways to better, if not supersede, the expectations of quality." 








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