One study reveals that less than half of high performers are satisfied with their jobs.
In fact, that same study by SAP and Oxford Economics concluded that one in five high performers are likely to leave their jobs within the next six months.
What is your reaction to that?
Are you concerned about losing one or more of your top performers to the competition? You should be. Keep your top talent by making it one of your top priorities. Losing high performers is a threat to your business, according to 73% of the surveyed CEOs in the 18th Annual Global CEO Survey by PwC.
Replacing a senior executive on your team is costly. One human resources executive I spoke with estimated the cost of replacing a senior vice president at $250,000. Some industry estimates state the cost of replacing a senior executive at 400% of their annual salary. Whatever the number is, you can do the math.
The cost is only one side of the equation. What if you lose your executive and then can’t find the right skill set to replace that person? The competition is actively looking for your top talent. The replacement cost together with the potential void is a high price to pay.
Take a moment to think about the top performers on your team. Are you doing everything possible to make sure they won’t leave? What are the odds that you are biased in your perception because you are justifying your own decision to stay? Yes, you are at a fantastic company, but does everyone on your team get the opportunities and appreciation they crave and deserve? This assumption could cost you dearly.
Just recently, I have been engaged with two vice presidents in two companies from different industries that were actively courted by competitors. If you think you have a solid team that will endure this next cycle of change your company is going through or working on, think again. Just
because you don’t know it doesn’t mean that your competition isn’t actively looking for your talent. The two VPs I am referring to are still at their respective companies, but for how long?
Reducing turnover is important; retaining your top talent is absolutely crucial.
Knowing your business is at risk, what are you doing to keep your top talent engaged? What do you think you are doing, but actually aren’t? What do you need to do differently in order to secure your talent? You can never tie a top talent to your company 100% of the time. But I see much room for improvement.
1) Engage to Keep Your Top Talent
One of the reasons they are high performers is because they are smart, active and curious. They are always looking for new opportunities and challenges. Satisfy that need by giving them a constant stream of interesting assignments and projects. A word of caution here: These shouldn’t be make-work projects but interesting and challenging assignments that help the executive grow and develop new skills. They must be assignments the executive can get excited about and where they see a redeeming value in spending their time and talent.
2) Link Your Top Talent to Your Corporate Strategy
The more high performers feel that they are essential to manifesting the vision of the company, the more they will identify with the organization. Include them in helping to define the corporate strategy and ask them to identify how they can contribute to realizing the strategy mid- to long-term.
3) Give Top Talent Visibility/Opportunities to Grow
Allow them to be in the spotlight. If they take on responsibility above and beyond, they deserve to get the visibility that makes them stand out when they succeed. They deserve the credit and will be turned off if someone steals their thunder. Make sure you give credit where credit is due.
4) Mentor Top Talent Directly
Your time is limited and you have big fish to fry, I get it. However, you would be ill advised to delegate coaching of your top performers to another executive. Getting your genuine attention is immensely important and they deserve to get mentorship from the best. Be sure to listen and make time for their concerns. Listening to their ideas and challenges creates a win-win situation for both of you.
5) Give Frequent Feedback
High performers have lots of ego. They have been successful and they know it. They deserve to hear frequently how they are doing. It is imperative that the feedback is balanced and genuine. Caution: high performers are more sensitive than their success might lead you to believe. You can easily turn them off.
6) Offer an Executive Coach (if desired) and Support Their Growth
Top performers might lack some leadership skills. Offer to pay for an executive coach who can coach them to increase their executive presence and lead a high performing team. High performers are like stallions. They don’t respond well to oversight and control. Trust that whatever he and his coach are working on will benefit the company. Period. It’s much like parenting teenagers. The idea is to offer them support without stifling them in their development.
7) Understand and Exceed Your Top Talent’s Expectations
You have high expectations in your top performers. And so do they. They see themselves on a career trajectory that is exponentially better than the average employee. They want to know how they can succeed, meet that next milestone, that bonus, that promotion. Now, I understand sometimes the path is not very clear – as a matter of fact most often it is not. Be careful to make promises you can’t keep. And yet it is a good idea to jointly develop a path to success. Of course things can change and ambiguity is part of life, but if there is no path in sight, top talent will seek that path somewhere else. This is the number one reason high performers get turned off. Their leadership is unable to articulate what it takes to reach that next milestone, which frustrates them immensely.
8) Make High Performers Feel Financially and Emotionally Valued
Top executives like to make a lot of money. But that’s not all. They also want to make a difference. They want to feel that what they are doing is having an impact. Rewarding them financially is essential. But it’s not enough. They need to feel that they are appreciated. They want to know that their superior has their back and has genuine trust in the relationship. Don’t assume that the appreciation you gave them at the last product launch is enough. It isn’t. Be creative in how you make them feel valued. Find out what they are passionate about, even outside of work, and support their cause.
Intellectual capital that you hold will be the thing that distinguishes you from the competition.
It’s never a good time to lose a great employee. Make a point of identifying your high-performing employees, and then actively take steps to ensure you retain them.
Let me challenge you to the following actions:
1) Identify who your top talent is
2) Send them an email right now asking to check in with them
3) Don’t delay
No need for your top talent to become part of the statistics.
Here are some more articles that help you lead:
How to Have Crucial Conversations
Increase Executive Performance