How to retain top talent with the right engagement

Valuing high performers, keeping them engaged and providing constructive feedback can help companies retaining them longer

Published: 12, Apr 2019

Pallavi Jha is the Chairperson & Managing Director of Dale Carnegie of India.

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How does a company classify its top talent? What specific measures do companies take to retain it? Top talent most likely comprises the people who are high performers, are self-motivated and goal-achievers. Such employees are fiercely competitive, driven either by self-ambition or a higher purpose, or both.

It is often observed that teams with high-talent densities are more likely to peck at each other while attempting to establish and solidify their stature in the organisation.

High performers often get used to singular attention and are the most sought-after employees. Their record is impressive, they are usually more productive, statistically smarter, and give the needed edge to the organisations. However, the notion that a squad of superstars primarily makes a superstar team and brings unprecedented excellence is actually a myth for a number of reasons.

Even then, many HR leaders have found themselves in a fix when it comes to retaining and engaging their top talent. Typically because it is often noticed that this group is hard-to-please, has a short attention span and is driven by much higher energy and passion than the rest of the lot. This also means that high performers face the risk of burning out faster than the average employee.

On the other hand, there have been reports that suggest that high performers are less likely to leave because they feel like an invaluable part of the company and therefore feel valued. But getting high performers to stay is a different thing than keeping them engaged.

What do you need to keep them motivated and engaged? One of the top priorities for high performers is a structured career development path. Besides that, they also need to be challenged through meaningful and interesting work. High performers are generally lifelong learners and this makes them hungry for new information all the time. A crucial part of their engagement should be curated learning opportunities that can add value to their existing skill set.

Although most employees thrive on recognition and praise from their managers, research suggests that high performers might not place a strong weight on this aspect. In fact, they place much higher importance on their career trajectory and role fit than any other parameter.

Providing this group with the right kind of mentorship and self-development opportunities could be another driver of engagement in them. Giving them responsible roles and holding them accountable for it is another great way to keep your star performers motivated.

Last but not the least, as for any other employee, it is important that high performers enjoy their day to day work. Fostering kinship amongst employees, giving them ample opportunities to have fun at work and providing a happy workplace ambiance are some of the obvious but often overlooked things that retain your top talent for longer.

High Performers do not necessarily need special treatment to be engaged. They need to feel valued and a sense of belonging at the workplace. Communication is critical to this lot and often the management’s decision to be transparent is awarded by discretionary efforts.

Providing them with constructive feedback for their work and appreciating their hunger for knowledge by providing them the right fuel for their curiosity is the ideal way to keep high performers self-motivated.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to provide them with the right tools needed to succeed and remove any hindrances to the same. Self-driven people do not need to be monitored, in fact they need to be left alone to shine. Top performers appreciate autonomy and freedom to do things their way.

It might be a tough job to find the right talent in today’s job market but it might be even more daunting to retain the right employee. There’s never a good time to lose an employee and losing a good one can hurt even more. That is why engagement should be a big priority for an organization if it wants to make its people its competitive edge.

(The author is the Chairperson and Managing Director at Dale Carnegie of India)

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