“Despite a recent hike, we continue to lose people” said the worried senior executive. It transpired that his organization had made the mistake that many make. In an attempt to increase retention, they had implemented a pay hike ( which honestly they could ill afford) to hang on to their “people assets”.

In reality, they had increased their costs without getting anything in return. Many took the hike and asked the organization in turn to take a hike! The organization had, in effect, let loose in an already crowded market, highly priced people, many of whom did not really deserve the amounts they earned.

Like consumers, these days, employees too have more choice than ever before. Talent retention continues to be the major challenge in front of managers in virtually every industry today.

Cutting across industry and geography, here are my 7 Ideas for Retaining Talent:-

  1. Build challenge in to the job: Create opportunities for employees to demonstrate their abilities. Get them stretched and intellectually stimulated by having to achieve challenging-yet realistic –goals.
  2. Encourage their ideas: The best ideas come from the guy who is doing the job. Encourage the sharing of ideas however radical they may seem at first. Let people know that ideas are welcomed. Explain why some may not be implemented but keep asking for ideas- the more the better.
  3. Involve them in the decision making process: Decision making is not restricted to top management strategy. In every job it is possible to involve others in decision making, getting their buy in and testing options with them before deciding upon a course of action.
  4. Pay for performance and pay fairly: I realize that “fair” is again a factor of perception. However, make sure that most – never all- people would perceive your process for evaluating and rewarding performance as being fair. Money is important. People won’t give off their best if they perceive they are being paid much less than their market worth. But the good news is that they do not expect to be the highest paid either.
  5. Build a learning culture where developing new skills is actively encouraged: Benchmarks of excellent performance yesterday barely make today’s grade. Foster a spirit of performance improvement and self-development where employees partner with the organization in equipping themselves, not only for their own professional betterment but also for the organization.
  6. Set right levels of expectations: It is far better to under promise and over deliver rather than over promise and under deliver! The secret to effective people management is to set the right expectations-in all fields. Be it compensation, job content, career progression or professional development, the answer is the same. Set realistic expectations and manage them well.
  7. Treat Them As You Would Be Treated: Develop and follow a leadership style and organizational culture in which your employees are treated the way you would like to be treated. Resist the temptation to use your position to have one set of rules for yourself and another for your employees

What has worked well for you?


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This is the 87 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.