How to Build the Best Team (part 3) – Retention

Preventing the Exodus of Talent and becoming and Employer of Choice

As a leader, at some point in your career, one of your people will ask you for “a quick chat when you have a minute” and they’ll offer their resignation. This is not always a bad thing but if it’s your star performer who is sat on the other side of the desk then you need to ask yourself some serious questions about your Retention Strategy.

As discussed in earlier posts in the series of “Building the Best Team Part 1 and Part 2”, your biggest asset is your people; without them you are nothing. This means that in order to be the best you can be, you need to Recruit the best people and keep them. There are numerous factors which need to be looked at in your Retention Strategies. Companies plough huge amounts of money into how they can keep their top performers.

That being said, it’s only a tragedy if your  Talent or Top Performers are leaving.

Below are 5  fundamental areas to look at to keep your top performers.


Training & Development

Ever so important – Up-skilling your workforce and having them participate in continuous improvement programs eases workloads and boosts morale. Most top performers are high achievers and most high achievers are always looking to progress and learn. If your company is still in the dark ages and won’t support this you’ll lose those great ideas people who are constantly improving your processes and increasing your profits to your competitor who will support them and help them grow.

It explains how England won the Ashes…by offering great training programs and development programs so that talented South African Cricketers move across at a young age and score hundreds of runs against Australia.

Remuneration and Benefits (& Recognition)

Firstly, If you reward people correctly for their positive contributions to the company success then it will incentivise them to work harder and keeps them engaged. The correct Rem. & Ben. programme can create tangible goals which will bring: over-achievement, a culture of high performers who celebrate success and high morale where employees can clearly see how they are rewarded from success.

This in turn creates an enviable work environment so you can be an employer of choice. Don’t just increase salaries for everyone for no reason; rewards need to be earnt. linking salary increases to employee performance pushes the right buttons for motivating people. You can reward high performance in other ways too. Work-life balance is equally important especially in Adelaide; allow flexible starting times, core business hours and flexible ending times.

Secondly, Recognise effort. Creating a High Performance Culture takes a lot of hard work. Make sure you at least recognise and ideally reward team members who deserve it.

Performance Management 

Positive Performance Management. This isn’t Negative and it isn’t managing talent out of the business. Everyone should be performance managed; it simply introduces activities which ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner. Performance management can focus on the performance of an organisation, a department, employee, or even the processes to build a product of service, as well as many other areas. It just makes sure that we’re all heading in the right direction. As well as improved financial gain and management control it gives you an engaged, confident and motivated workforce (especially when aligned with your Rem. & Ben.). It also brings transparency where non performers aren’t retained.

Read Clive Woodward’s book. He lead the England Rugby team to World Cup glory in 2003. It wasn’t all about Jonny Wilkinson’s left (or right) foot. He applied business principles and systems on and off the pitch on applying the recipeto any human endeavour.

Recruitment Retention and Turnover

This is all about your external perception and internal culture. It includes Redundancies. In South Australia when we ask what companies our talented candidates want to “stay away” from they usually the companies that have recently had a redundancy program. It’s bad PR and sends out a negative message to the market. The same applies with a “Recruitment Freeze” or a reputation for having a “High Turnover”. In short you need to try to make sure you’re turnover is healthy (between 10 – 20% per annum as a guideline – you need some turnover) and most importantly make sure that you’re making quality hires – So stop the Exodus and Keep Recruiting.

Engagement & Empowerment

This looks at the topic I’ve talked about repeatedly that people don’t leave companies, they leave they people. This is supported by Leigh Branham, author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It’s Too Late (Amacom, 2005), who says that  88% of people change jobs because of negative factors in their current workplace from poor people management to a toxic culture. It also looks at the effect a “toxic employer” has on a team. If they leave the company…the culture changes…to a more enjoyable one.

Once you’ve got them engaged you need to allow them to make their own decisions and find the balance between performance management and micro management.“If you want a team of people who are continuously improving themselves, then you need to Empower them to do their job correctly and grow” says Geoff Hardy, a Senior Contact Care Consultant in the UK. This gets a team that is happy, fun supportive collaborative and improving.

The balance of keeping the right staff is a tough one but ever so important. It can be something as simple as a poor manager, poor remuneration or training that can lead to you losing your best asset and put your business in a compromising position. Getting it right can be as simple as stopping the exodus by boosting engagement and starting a recruitment drive but the results will set you apart from your competitors and create an enjoyable working environment of high achievers and make people not only stay but want to come and work for you. The difficult bit is adjusting this balance to retain the right people not the wrong ones.

Keep Calm


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