In a fast paced and often competitive work environment, top performers rarely stand still for long. Add to this the speed of technological advances, combined with an often highly volatile and fluctuating jobs market, and there can be no doubt those who embrace change and are responsive to new ideas have the upper hands when it comes to retaining the brightest and best talent.
In our previous article, we touched upon the importance of empowerment, and the need for a more modern approach to leadership, not least due to the old hierarchical model of leadership fast becoming an ill-fitting concept in the modern corporate global environment (CIPD). A top-down and bottom-up approach is more effective at creating a cohesion of leadership and change, both of which are essential to enable fresh ideas to be implemented effectively. According to Quinn & Quinn (Harvard Business Review) “Cultural changes cannot happen without leadership, and efforts to change culture are the crucible in which leadership is developed.”
Cultivate A Change Embracing Environment
When an individual is given the space to flourish, under the support and guidance of an effective leader, new ideas and strategies are often germinated, and, given the right support and means of implementation, can thrive, bringing new growth and fresh oxygen to projects and team environments. Often though, to cultivate an environment for change and allow fresh ideas to flourish, a good leader will facilitate growth of new ideas by creating an encouraging and permissive environment. Rewards systems, bench marking and a positive change culture will all promote this ideal, and enabling publicity and effective roll out strategies will increase motivation. Goodnight Consulting (Top Performers Are Masters of Managing Change) believe in the concept of ‘spreading change’, stating people like to be associated with a “winner.” “When they see your idea is affecting positive change, they will buy in and help spread the change throughout the organization [sic]. They also encourage establishing reward systems which reinforce new behaviours and language that demonstrates the change as an effective way of monitoring and promoting the new changes until they are fully established within the business.
Identify, Embrace, Reward, Retain
A key factor in retaining top performers is to identify who they are among your workforce, and then create an environment in which they are motivated to stay. According to Willis Tower Watson, More than one-quarter of employees are in a high-retention-risk category, and many are top performers or high potentials, possessing critical skills. Further, more than 70% of high-retention-risk employees believe they have no other choice but to leave their organisation to advance their careers. One could identify those in these categories in a number of ways.
Firstly, if it is evident an employee is highly productive, but there are no reward strategies in place, or there is a perceived lack of appreciation this could be a red warning light. Therefore, it is imperative communication lines are kept open and any risk factors identified early on. As previously mentioned in part one of this series, identifying motivational factors (which may not be limited to financial) as well as any underlying dissatisfaction (Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors) are vital to address top performers reasons for staying with your organisation. Secondly, one should identify what your organisation can offer your top performers in comparison to your competitors, and, if possible, tailor their career prospects to their personal aspirations. Personal growth and development are essential for encouraging engagement, retaining top talent and nurturing future leaders within the organisation.
Finally, diversity is often overlooked as a means of embracing a change-hungry environment. According to Dr Jill Miller from CIPD (Guyan & Associates) substantial research indicates having a diverse range of people from different backgrounds in the workplace, with different identities working together, “bring lots of different perspectives that will enable innovation and problem solving.” Creating an environment rich in diversity offers the potential for new ideas across a broad spectrum and from outside cultural sources to meld together and bring fresh innovation, as well as harnessing access to tried and tested ideas that may not have been used in your industry sector before. By embracing diversity, you are also increasing your talent pool and thus increasing the potential to identify and focus on top performers from different areas and backgrounds.
One thing is for certain. Those organisations that have not yet opened their doors to embrace new ideas, processes and diversity among the workforce are quickly being left behind, both technologically, and with regard to new opportunities. In a global climate of fast paced career change, multiplicity and workplace innovation it is more important than ever to embrace, encourage and implement new ideas.
Alma Sheren is Head of Marketing and Communications for Greenacre Recruitment, and researches/writes articles with the team on Leadership, Human Resources, Change Management and the challenges and transitions currently facing the UK housing sector.