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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Three Ways Companies Lose Top Talent




In many cases, companies with the best talent wins. However, if you are unable to retain top talent, it may be difficult for your business to lead its industry. That makes retention of high performers a critical part of your organization’s strategy.

For those who believe top talent is not a factor, here are some clever ways they run their enterprises to lose high performers.

  1. Restrict their creativity – In many cases, highly talented individuals are very creative. Their approach can be counterintuitive at best or disruptive. If Steve Jobs were not CEO, there is a chance that he would have been too disruptive and fired. In fact, he was fired earlier in his career. Part of the inspiration that drives top talent is the ability to express their ideas through work. They often look at problems from a different perspective. And that is what sets them apart from others. Furthermore, because they are allowed to use their creativity, they are motivated to work harder. When you restrict their creativity, they become poor performers. In some cases, they become antagonistic. At that point, their frustration becomes disruptive and they lose all motivation to perform well.

  1. Do not provide them with incentives – While incentives can be monetary or non-monetary, they are a critical component of positive reinforcement. As a rule, top talent is aware of their ability to outperform their peers. Therefore, they expect to be acknowledged for their efforts. That acknowledgement takes form in verbal or written recognition, pay raises or promotions. If your policy is to reward in a one size fits all manner, you are creating an unspoken policy that says ‘high performance is unnecessary here’. When top talent sees there is no recognition for their extraordinary efforts, they will seek a corporation that will accommodate them.

  1. Put them down – If lack of incentives is discouraging to a high performer, verbally criticizing them will destroy their effectiveness. Sometimes the best workers can make others feel less competent. As a result, management and peers believe the high performer is arrogant or a show off and make negative comments about their work or personality. It is a way of bringing top talent down to earth with everyone else. Instead of others increasing their performance or leveraging highly talented people, they go into survival mode. They believe the top performer is creating pressure for everyone one else to work at the same level. While this is not the case, those who see high performers as a threat may take action to level the playing field by putting top talent down for being very good at their work. In other cases, management may have the philosophy that if you are harder on top talent, they will increase their effort to please management. While there may be isolated cases where that is appropriate, if that is the norm in your enterprise, you will never retain high performers.

While there are many more reasons top talent will leave your business, it is critical that management eliminate these three behaviors if they want to create a high performing culture. It is incumbent upon leadership to reward and acknowledge all employees. It is more important to give special attention for those who perform beyond what is expected. That way the entire organization will understand that high performance has it rewards.            

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know. 


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