Tips for Organizations on Keeping Top Talent

I hear it almost daily when I ask organizational leaders what their greatest challenges are: “Retaining our best and brightest.” “Keeping top talent.”

When I ask what sorts of things they’re doing to meet this retention challenge, I hear an assortment of benefit ideas, some incentive compensation plans, and a smattering of development programs. Cosmetic surgery.

What I often find lacking are some fundamental disciplines that the entire organization needs to embrace to develop and retain not only the best and brightest, but everyone who can make important contributions.

Disciplines like developing true expertise in an industry or profession and sharing the knowledge throughout the organization. Not trumpeting your brilliance, but truly sharing what you’ve learned in a spirit of helping others grow, too. There’s a funny thing about knowledge—even when you give it away freely, you never lose it yourself.

Telling the truth at all levels, particularly in tense situations. This takes maturity, thoughtfulness, and practice. When tensions run high, emotions do, too. Truth sometimes escapes out the back door.

Listening to others. This means having your mind engaged in what someone else is saying and accepting another’s viewpoint as valid. A lot of people have trouble with this and it’s a key reason why good people leave organizations. When they don’t feel heard, they quickly seek greener pastures.

Being thoughtful in one’s remarks. This means appreciating the implications of what you say. It’s amazing how quickly your words sprout wings and remarkable the amount of damage that can be done when you speak without thinking.

Understanding the word ‘no’ and using it when appropriate. People don’t like to say no because they want to be seen as supportive team players. That’s a wonderful motivation, but when it leads to unrealistic expectations or promises that have no hope of being kept, skepticism and cynicism creep in.

Accepting feedback from a variety of sources and using it to keep growing. This involves being willing to hear how your behavior affects others and able to make changes to improve. Willingness and ability are not givens.

These aren’t HR programs. They’re not the kinds of behaviors you can learn in one-day seminars. They are daily habits of thinking and acting that create environments that make people want to stay, learn, and grow with your organization.

Categories: Business

About Susan Marshall

founder susan marshall

Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.