You know that retaining your best employees is critical to your company’s success. But how do you keep top performers from coming down with a case of “the grass is always greener?”
So you’ve recruited a superstar. Congratulations! Your work here is done…or is it?
You know that keeping star employees on your team is critical to your company’s success. But how do you keep top performers from coming down with a case of “the grass is always greener?”
A found that the #1 reason people leave jobs was a lack of advancement. We’d all love to grant our star employees raises and promotions, but we don’t always have the luxury of extra budget or open positions. What’s a manager to do?
Keep great employees happier by allowing them to build jobs they love (without leaving their current job). Here are five quick strategies to help you retain star employees on your team:
1. Encourage employees to continually redefine their jobs.
It’s easy for people to let a job description confine them to work they’re tired of or just don’t like. Instead of thinking of job descriptions as finite, encourage employees to think of their job description as “clay on the wheel.” When employees actively mold their jobs, they not only meets your company’s needs —they also broaden their own potential. Ask them to dream bigger than their current role, and give them permission to think of their job description as a starting point for their job —not the end point.
2. Have them write a work wish list.
Demonstrate your interest in your employees’ development by asking them to make a list of the work that doesn’t feel like work. Work that plays to people’s natural strengths, passion and skills doesn’t feel like ‘work’. Spending the day on inspiring work is less depleting, and they’ll find themselves more confident and more inclined to be generous with their time, energy, and focus. Just showing interest here will boost your star employees’ feeling of appreciation.
3. Help them play to their strengths.
It may not be realistic to eliminate all the work that wears your star employee out, but you can help modify some work responsibilities to play to their strengths. For example, the only way I could survive an Excel analysis was to schedule a presentation to share the findings. I could then approach the required work with more enthusiasm.
On the other hand, I’ve had clients who enjoyed preparing presentations but dreaded presenting. They made sure to include lots of film clips and group breakouts. All these actions modify the work you have to do and make it more motivating. Ask your employees how they could slightly modify each of their required tasks to play more to their strengths.
4. Encourage them to seek out collaboration.
Thankfully, humans are unique individuals who enjoy different kinds of work. Ask them to stay on the lookout for collaborators with different skills and interests. This step might sound unusual, and that’s because it is. There’s some mentality that suggests we should all strive to be good at everything instead of tapping into each other’s strengths. Ask them to list their three closest co-workers. What are they good at, and what are their biggest challenges? Where could your star employees help them? Where could their coworkers help them?
5. Don’t know which tasks they enjoy most? Ask!
Many employees just assume the boss knows the areas where they are most proficient — a risky assumption. Unless your star employees articulate what motivates them, they may be assigned whatever tasks seem like a good fit or whatever they’d prefer not to do themselves. This can lead to frustration, so ask them to give you examples of work they would prefer to do.
Try one of these strategies in your next conversation with your top performers. Notice the positive momentum it creates!
This article is an excerpt adapted by Ben Fanning from his forthcoming book, . Ben will be giving away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up at