3 Things You Must do to Retain Your Top Performers in 2010

Nov 12, 2009

In the last post, I outlined the seven main reasons your top performers are likely to leave in 2010. Here are the three steps you must take – now – to prevent that happening.1. Re-establish a shared vision

To stay with you in 2010, your key performers will need to feel a renewed sense of shared vision – they’ve been ‘running on empty’ for long enough. But if you’re like many business owners and managers right now, the thought of hauling yourself back into the ‘vision business’ is a daunting one.

After all the best-laid plans of 2007 and beyond were torpedoed out of existence, and after two years of wearying slog, dusting off the mission statement, pulling down the strategic plan and shaking the crystal ball anew feels like an exercise in futility and frustration. Weariness, lack of clarity and the pressure of other commitments all make this an unappealing exercise.

Here’s the thing – while most businesses will be wakening to the need (and desire) to rebuild their vision sometime near the back end of 2010, that’s way too late for you. Your best performers will be gone by then – substantially because of that self-same lack of shared vision.

As a business owner or manager, your biggest single challenge for the final couple of months of 2009 is to find from somewhere the energy and enthusiasm to rekindle a new shared vision for your organization, your people and yourself.

2. Provide a fresh challenge.

Part of the ‘new’ shared vision must be the provision of a fresh challenge for your top performers. As we saw in the last post, for your veterans and top producers, simply returning to life as ‘normal’ before the crash won’t cut it. You need to find new responsibilities, new locations, new oversight, new authority, new horizons – new challenges, for your key people.

And vitally, agreeing those new challenges will require a higher-than-usual level of dialog with your people. In 2010, you won’t retain your top performers by issuing them with a new challenge that you’ve simply delegated or imposed. Instead, you need to engage them in a dialog whereby you hear from them what they want to do next – otherwise, they’ll take those desires to a hiring interview with your competitors.

3. Use trust to rebuild a sense of ‘fit’

Your key people (especially if they have been with you for three or four years or more) are feeling disjointed and unaligned – like they don’t ‘fit’ with the organization the way they used to.

Rebuilding that sense of fit involves implementing both the points detailed above (re-establishing a shared vision and finding a fresh challenge for your key people) plus rebuilding a sense of trust.

As we saw in the earlier post, most people have had their trust in all institutions severely eroded in the past couple of years. Don’t kid yourself – you’re no exception: you and your business are included. No matter how upright you’ve been or how trustworthily you’ve behaved during the downturn, you are still the public face and subliminal fall guy for your employees’ distrust.

Rebuilding trust (and renewing that sense of ‘fit’) will require one thing from you:

Consistent, predictably regular, and authentic communication.

In the next post, we’ll look at what ‘consistent, predictably regular, and authentic communication’ involves.