How To Retain Your Top Performers

Keep one step ahead of your hot shots.

Say you have a salesperson named Raina.  She’s been on a hot streak for about a year, and has been consistently putting up the top numbers.  Raina is aware she’s making a lot of money for you, and may decide to apply her sales and marketing chops to her own product, one for which she keeps the profits.  If Raina is, alternately, not a salesperson, but a creative or ideas person, one who has the ability to bring about new products or initiatives, your risk of losing her is even greater.  If Raina isn’t quite ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge, she may take a job in upper management at some glitzier firm.

Here are some ways to retain your top performers.

Be One of a Kind

You’ve heard of the playgrounds and spas at Google, the time for creativity that some firms allow, the strange building designs, the very distinct cultures created at certain companies.  With creativity and effort, you can pull off a very satisfying feat: creating a brilliant and seductive culture in your firm, one that cultivates creativity and efficacy in your employees.

This should keep Raina from being so quick to move—being a slightly higher part of a different organization may be meaningless to her if what made her time at your company special is gone.

Advance As Much as You Can

If Raina can go from sales to something higher in your company, facilitate that as much as you can, even if that means letting go of someone to create a spot for her—she’s a cracker jack, remember.  Don’t allow a merely decent Vice President or someone in a similar position stand in Raina’s way of advancement.  There will be a point at which there’s only so much you can do.  And you will lose some employees from time to time.  But this policy can help retain the best of them for as long as possible.

Move the Goalposts

It’s important that Raina—your top performing salesperson—remain challenged.  She has to feel dynamic and on the move.  Help her find new ways of improving and developing self-realization.  Don’t allow the top of the sales board to be a type of prison for her.

Be Beneficial

Health benefits are very important for employees.  Being sure to provide these is key.  You could have a policy of applying added benefits for higher performers, with clear definitions for how this is determined in place in advance.  Various benefits, such as top-of-the-line retirement plans, etc, can be helpful.  Studies have shown that benefits plans are key in retaining employees.

Talk To Them

Upward mobility needn’t be a dirty word or a taboo.  Yes, it can be awkward and touchy, but it’s important to talk to your employees about their future plans, and this can include asking them what you can do to keep them.  The very act of doing this will make Raina and others like her feel wanted, and feel all-important attention from the boss.  Without being weird or pushy or clingy about it, giving your employees a clear sense that you want them around—this will be very encouraging to them, and may have some of the desired effects.