Our top performers are essential to our success. It is clear that we are now in a much more buoyant jobs market so it is likely that our most prized assets will be regularly exposed to potential offers. It is sometimes easier to assume that someone is happy in their role, maybe they have been with you for a number of years, they seem content; why would they leave? With so much movement in the jobs market, it is now even more essential that we find out what really motivates our staff to minimise the risk of losing our top performers.
1) Reward (not just financially): Don’t assume that you know what they want. Do you truly know what motivates your staff? What does job satisfaction mean to them? When was the last time you actually asked your staff what makes them happy? Everyone wants to be paid fairly for the job they do, they want to feel rewarded for their efforts. Money however, is not always the answer. If your top performer wants a new challenge then is there a way to embrace this? If they are keen to explore a flexible working arrangement then can this be accommodated? There are a number of ways to compensate staff, not just financially.
2) Embrace new ideas: Top performers will soon become bored with routine tasks and the status quo. Many people choose to move on when they feel they are restricted where they are or when they feel they have reached a ceiling professionally. Offer them a new challenge, provide them with new assignments; ask for their feedback on how to improve or re-shape the service. Maybe they just want to feel valued, that their ideas are heard and taken into consideration.
3) Training and development: How robust is their appraisal process? How often do you discuss further training, their career development and what new skills they want to acquire? It is easier to discuss what has happened and how they performed last month or quarter, the real value comes from thinking ahead 6 – 12 months. If they feel they have a 6 month plan that is tailored towards their needs and motivations, would they be so open to other offers?
4) Praise: People will always work harder for managers and leaders that show their appreciation. Are your managers self-aware? Do they believe that they praise their staff enough? What do their staff say about this? For example a quick well done in the corridor can work in the right context but for any significant high performance or examples of excellent customer service, this needs to be celebrated.
5) Encourage them to take risks: If they are a top performer then the chances are they have built up a solid enough knowledge of the business and what the associated risks are within each piece of work. Give them ownership and an opportunity to take calculated risks, as long as it is within policy and procedure, if the correct control mechanisms are in place then allow them to run with their ideas.
6) Managing expectations: They will need to have clarity on what your expectations of them are, what do you want them to achieve and by when? Is this achievable? If you were given these objectives would you feel fairly treated? Do they know what success looks like in your mind? If there is a clear goal in mind, tell them and make sure they understand. Many top performers choose to move on due to un-realistic expectations or lack of clarity around the objectives.
7) Personal brand awareness: Encourage them to raise their profile and share ideas and best practice with other departments. If they are a positive ambassador for your team then use them to promote the good work you are doing. This may also give them a sense of ownership of the bigger picture.
8) Make them a champion: What are their key strengths? How can you embrace this? Is there a part of the strategy that they can lead on? Are there any special projects that they can own? Use their energy to benefit you and the team whilst keeping them challenged.
9) Lead from the front: Line managers and leaders of the department are looked up to, they need to communicate their ideas and plans effectively, they need to be visible, approachable and be conscious of their management style. Top performers will scrutinise the performance of their role models and mentors. They will pay particular attention to how they handle stressful situations, how they delegate and communicate their expectations. Credible professionals will make an all-round assessment of whether they aspire to this model and way of working (or not), therefore making a judgement on whether they wish to be there for the long term.
10) Do what you say you are going to do: This can relate to money, responsibility, recognition, flexibility or any other promise. If we commit to something then we need to carry it out. Top performers will remember what has been said so if you say something during an appraisal or an informal setting, always be prepared to see it through.
Is this something that you have recently experienced? If so we would be keen to hear from you. Maybe you are looking for your next career move? Perhaps your organisation is putting particular emphasis on staff retention following a turbulent time? Please contact the Greenacre team on 01462429750 to speak to one of our consultants.
Greenacre Recruitment is a Social Housing Consultancy, passionate about driving change, finding solutions for, and challenging Leadership issues within the public sector. You can follow Greenacre on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to engage on topics of leadership, change and the public sector industry news.