How to make sure you don’t lose your best people

In any organisation you would expect (and indeed want) a healthy turnover of staff. But if you start to lose your best people your business will suffer, especially if these people are enticed away by your competitors. Your best people are your biggest asset.

If you hold exit interviews you may get some insight as to what is happening in your organisation, but it’s more than likely that either you won’t hear the truth or the feedback will be vague. And at this point it’s fair to say that the horse has already bolted.

Here are 5 things that you can do to ensure that the best people stay, or at the very least feel they can talk to you about how they’re feeling about their job and the organisation before they hand in their notice.

  1. Financial Reward

There is a tendency to assume it’s all about the money, but research shows that over and above a certain pay level it is simply not about the salary. Of course you have to reward good people with a fair and competitive package, but beyond this, people are mostly looking for other things. This is especially true of the millennials in your organisation. So don’t ever just throw money at the problem. Even if you persuade an employee to stay on this basis, you have probably papered over the cracks and are likely to be storing up problems for the future.

  1. Your Leadership

How effective you are as a leader will have a marked effect on whether your best people stay. The Gallup Organisation has done extensive research into what traits people want in their leader. The results were distilled down into 4 key qualities:-

  • Trust
  • Compassion
  • Stability
  • Hope

Try to make these the cornerstones of the way you deal with people, whether they are your direct reports, your peers or indeed your Chairman.

  1. Communication

Focus on your communication and share your vision for the organisation with your staff. Don’t just wheel out the vision at quarterly staff meetings, continuously talk about plans for the future, paint a picture, tell the story and make it clear how it involves them.

  1. Coaching

Make sure that your organisation has a ‘coaching’ culture where your staff feel they are genuinely listened to, treated as adults, encouraged to show initiative, share ideas and are highly valued for their contribution to the organisation. Start at the top by coaching your direct reports and encourage them to do the same with their teams.

  1. Regular one to one meetings with staff

One of the best ways to ensure that you keep your best people is to set up a regular system for one to one meetings with them. This is a short meeting which happens at least every month and it focuses on them, not work in progress. As well as providing you with a regular opportunity to coach a member of your team it is an excellent early warning system. If one of your rising stars is unhappy, you are far more likely to hear about it at this regular private meeting where it is understood that they are the focus of your attention.

And don’t fall into the trap of thinking a one to one meeting is the chat you have in a taxi on the way back from a client meeting or a pint down the pub on a Friday night. Both these have their place, but they are no substitute for structured one to one meetings between you and your direct reports.

All organisations are vulnerable to losing good employees, but if as the leader of an organisation or team, you can be on the front foot and make sure you are consciously paying attention to these 5 things then you will not only keep your best people, but build a culture in your organisation that people really want to work in.