What constitutes a high-potential employee? Depending on whom you ask, it’s generally regarded as the top 3 to 5 percent of a company who demonstrate high levels of contribution. And while every organization may have its own twist on that definition, there is a consensus that this group is always in hot demand.
So why do many companies invest a lot of effort into recruiting high-performing employees but do so little to retain them? At a time when talent is so crucial, organizations must put strategies in place to avoid losing the people with the most value to your business. Here are five strategies for retaining high-performing employees that you should be thinking about today.
1. Pair Them With Effective Mentors
In Homer’s Odyssey, Mentor was the trusted advisor of Odysseus who conveyed life-changing wisdom. Today, we commonly use that word to mean a more experienced person who can advise and teach us. Corporate environments have taken notice of this talent-management concept and have started implementing more structured mentoring programs. These can be a very powerful tool in acclimating employees to your corporate culture and values.
Remember, mentoring can be enormously valuable for retaining high-performing employees who thrive on interaction with influential colleagues. The difficulty lies in finding that perfect match between a seasoned employee with the willingness and openness to mentor someone, and a high-potential employee who respects that mentor and is eager to incorporate their knowledge. But when that is achieved, it can be a great employee-retention approach.
2. Give Them High-Visibility Assignments
Giving your top-performing employees highly visible and meaningful assignments is key to keeping them engaged. This can take on many different forms. Think about handing over stretch assignments that are pivotal to the organization’s success. While this may frighten some managers, it’s important that these employees be given challenging opportunities that are outside of their comfort zones.
They may make mistakes along the way, but that’s a necessary part of their employee development. Other things you may want to explore include:
- Rotating an employee to a supplier or partner
- Swapping positions
The idea is to give high-potential employees opportunities to develop and gain visibility, depth, and experience.
3. Openly Communicate With Them
This may seem like it’s stating the obvious, but if a high-potential employee has a concern or an idea, it’s in the organization’s best interest to listen. Give them the one-on-one attention they deserve with all levels of management and foster their creativity.
You may also want to consider communicating that you believe they are high-potential, and, as such, enormously valuable to the organization. Some managers may worry that this will cause the employee to develop a sense of entitlement, but the more likely scenario is that it will boost their desire to work toward fully realizing their potential.
4. Invest in Their Learning and Development
Think about other types of learning and employee-development opportunities that you could offer beyond certifications or employee-training programs. This group yearns for dynamic and ever-changing tasks. Is there an opportunity for an employee to be sent overseas for an extended period of time? Is your organization large enough that it can implement special “tracks” for high-performing employees?
Many organizations are coming up with talent-management programs that allow employees to touch many facets of the organization, from sales to marketing to customer service. For those employees who thrive on constantly learning, what better opportunity than to have assignments in all of these different roles? Remember that if you implement something like this, the employee must be empowered to actively participate in the planning of their career development.
5. Measure Progress Quarterly
Given that companies measure themselves on a quarterly basis, wouldn’t it make sense to take your high-potential employees and measure them the same way? If you’re not thinking that way today, you should start. By exposing this group to mentors, new and high-visibility projects, position swapping, etc., you are putting them in unfamiliar territory.
Instead of waiting until the end of the year for the performance review, implement a proactive quarterly review that provides them with more immediate feedback. In turn, this feedback can be used to improve the employee’s performance in the short-term, thus improving overall performance and communication at all levels.
Regardless of where your organization stands at the moment, it’s imperative that deliberate talent-management strategies be put into place in order to grow and retain your high-performing employees. Combining the right strategies with the right people is one powerful way for you to orchestrate your company’s success.
Retaining High-Performing Employees Starts With Recruitment
Before you can retain a high-performing employee, you have to find one. The process starts with ensuring that your recruitment strategy is aligned with the latest hiring market trends. That’s where it helps to have a global resource with a finger on the pulse of the hiring market. At Monster we have expert tips and analysis to share. Find out how you can get free recruitment and retention insights for your business today.