March 5, 2013

Eight Factors that Keep Star Performers on Your Team

Measuring employee attrition is good; planning for retention of top performing employees is critical.  Your best performers have options, and they know it.  They constantly evaluate your organization and the options you present for them.  Keeping these employees must be a component of your overall HR solution.  Here are eight factors that you must consider while planning for retention of your star performers:

A Clear Direction and Goals. Your best people need to know where the organization is going, and how it defines winning.  Going to work every day and doing a good job is not enough for them.  They need a way to measure progress.  Star performers won’t last long in an environment without a direction.  There must be a cause, and the cause must be important to the star performer.

A Meaningful Role.  A star performer wants to make a difference in the organization.  His/top performers her role needs to be impactful, having a clear opportunity to affect the organization’s success in a significant way.

Frequent Progress Updates. Your top employees need to know how the organization is performing overall and how they are contributing as an individual.  Star performers can be competitive…in a good way.  They are watching the scoreboard, and they want to deliver the best individual contributor statistics possible.  Keep score, and give them regular performance feedback.

Degree of Autonomy. Star performers want freedom (and trust from you) to decide how they will accomplish the organization’s goals.  That may include flexibility with respect to schedule, methods, budget, personnel and other factors.  Don’t micro-manage a star performer…if you want to keep him/her on the team.

Skills Development.  Top performers want to improve.  Your organization’s investment in performance improvement for top performers will pay off many times over.  Conversely, failure to invest in development will decrease your organization’s attractiveness to top performers.  Either help them to grow, or watch them go.

Career Path.  The best performers will want to know what’s next for them.  Some may accept the opportunity to chart their own paths.  Many will want to know what advancement opportunities the organization offers.  If there is no room for some type of advancement (and they are not at the pinnacle), most of your best performers will leave for another opportunity.

Fair Return-On-Investment.  Star performers expect to be rewarded at a level that recognizes their value in your organization.  Whether the comparison is within your company or across the market, know that star performers have a benchmark of some type.  As a leader, you should periodically review (and adjust as necessary) whatever forms of compensation your organization offers to star performers.  Be sure that there is a clear difference in the way your best performers are rewarded.  Nothing is more unfair than equal recognition for unequaled results.

Consistent Minimum Expectations.  There must be accountability for underperformance.  Not having and enforcing a minimum standard can be demotivating, even for top performers.  Let there be consequences for poor performance; these are as important as rewards for excellence.  For top performers, accountability is part of what makes achievement worthwhile.

Who are your star performers?  Do they know that you know who they are?

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