It can be easy to assume that once you have brought on board a talented player to your team they will simply hit the ground running and carry on performing at their best and most efficient. However, it would be prudent to consider not only the differing environments and methods of implementation they have been acclimatised to previously, but also the reasons they may have left their previous role in the first place. And with a conscious wrestling of the arguments for and against investment of training v loss of talent to other companies once trained, it can be an unsettling judgement call.
As mentioned in our previous article Embracing New Ideas, more than 70% of high-retention-risk employees (many of whom are top performers) believe they have no other choice but to leave their organisation to advance their careers (Willis Tower Watson). As well as benefits, rewards and space for innovation, training and development opportunities also rank highly on the list of reasons of those who choose to leave.
A 2014 a study conducted by Harvard Business Review and SAP showed 50% of high performers expect at least a monthly sit down with their managers to discuss performance and avenues for progression, however only 53% of these felt their managers delivered on their expectations. It would be wrong to assume top performers do not need tensile support and reaffirmation. Although most high performers have been found to be generally better at handling stress, time and productivity (HR Drive), there is a clear link between regular support, opportunities for progression and retainment. Further, clear, consistent feedback and measurement of performance is key to ensuring a high level of performance is sustained, as knowing what is and isn’t working in real time provides continuous opportunity for improvement, flexibility to adapt, and autonomy to change direction when necessary.
It is also important to create a challenging, yet interesting environment for top performers, whilst developing opportunities to progress within it. As globalisation has swept across the planet and technology has evolved at an even faster rate, the ability for organisations to adapt to change and evolve quickly is crucial in achieving and maintaining success. In conjunction with this, if employees are given the tools and opportunity to learn, adapt and evolve alongside the company, and their strengths developed to play a pivotal role in the department or team they serve, they are much more likely to stay within that organisation. Fresh challenges, training and development that are current and that are aligned to already existing individual strengths, builds self-assurance and increases confidence that they are good fit within the organisation.
Although developing new skills and correcting perceived weaknesses can encourage a more diverse skill set and all-round performance, a study by Gallup suggests that taking advantage of an employee’s pre-existing strengths and qualities produces much better results overall. The research shows “people who know and use their strengths – and the companies they work for – tend to be better performers…Leaders have an opportunity to transform an organization’s [sic] culture by implementing a strengths-based approach to employee development,” Haralalka & Tung.
As well as looking at short term measurement of performance and developing pre-existing skills, it is also hugely important to create long term pathway of progression that encourages development within the organisation. According to Aon Hewitt (Engaging and Retaining Top Performers) high performers are likely to get frustrated and leave if they do not clearly see development opportunities within the company. Sitting down regularly to discuss each individual’s long-term goals, which may change as they themselves adapt to their progressive roles, not only allows you to gain healthy perspective of where their intentions lie, it also allows you to shape future roles and responsibilities that align to the individual’s aspirations.
Armed with the knowledge of what motivates your top performers, you can tailor benefits packages, manage and measure performance to attain maximum satisfaction from all quarters, create a challenging and interesting environment, whilst working together to create long term pathways which fit in with both your and their objectives. Being adaptable to change will also ensure the paving stones laid down to create the pathway are fresh, smooth and easier to walk on, with the most comfortable fitting boots, provided of course by your indispensable organisation.
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.
Alma Sheren is Head of Marketing and Communications for Greenacre Recruitment, and owner of Virtual Office Solutions, a remote business support service, also based in Hertfordshire. You can follow VOS on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook .