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How to retain your top-performing employees with 3 steps

Help retain your top-performing employees by investing in their dreams as well as your organisational goals. Three steps can get you to successful succession planning.

There’s been a lot of airtime given to the issue of employee retention and events such as The Great Resignation over recent months.

As usual at Transform Performance, we like to take a couple of steps back and look at what’s at the root of these patterns. Just as we start all our programmes by stepping back to look at the beliefs that sit beneath the behaviours, we want to understand what you need and what you have. Employee retention should be about retaining your TOP performing talent, not necessarily all talent. High performers and those who have the skills you need are the ones who will transform the capabilities of your business.

Read on for our three-step guide to retaining your top performers:

Step 1: Understand your most important skillsets.

What does your business need in order to maximise success? What does a top performer look like to you? Until you identify what your business needs, you won’t know who your top performers are and these are the people you need to nurture to retain (and potentially find more of for the future).

For example, do you need to shorten your sales cycle, close more high-value deals or upsell to more existing clients? Each of these sales tactics requires different skills and by understanding what your business needs, you’ll get a better feel for the skillsets you need.

Step 2: Unlock the potential within your employees.

Once you know what you need, it’s time to find out where it exists – or has the potential to exist within the organisation.

Understanding your people isn’t just about knowing where the skills are though. There’s a huge value to understanding their beliefs, desires and what drives them to want to better themselves. By offering personal development that will serve them as well as the organisation, you are nurturing them and letting them know you value them as a whole.

Investing in existing potential is a great strategy because recruiting new talent is far more expensive, both in terms of time and money. Think of your sales teams. How long would a new recruit take to become an effective member of the team? Three to five months? Mindtickle reports that the average time to get up to speed is either 5 months, or the length of your sales cycle plus 3 months. Then there’s the recruitment costs: according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), replacing a midrange employee can cost around 20% of their annual salary, while recruiting for a new executive position can cost up to 213% of annual pay.

Step 3: Create a succession planning process and make it one that invests in their dreams as well as your organisational goals.

One of the simplest ways to retain top performers is to make sure they can visualise a future with your organisation. It’s often forgotten about: leadership teams know who they are watching and who they have future plans for, but this doesn’t always make it to the person in question. Equally, they should have a say in your future plans. A truly collaborative nurture process should be designed to help your top performers achieve their own goals too.

For this to work well, you need to understand what your future leaders want from their careers. Keep in mind: if your top performers don’t think your development plans will provide them with the relevant skills and mindsets to advance in their careers and stay competitive in the job market, then there’s a high chance they’re going to look elsewhere. Don’t fall into the trap of offering development programmes that are entirely specific to their current role (or the level above) and only relevant to your organisation.

Spending time on a jointly endorsed succession planning process could be an invaluable investment. Take the example of the organisation who reported they were spending over £1 million per annum on recruitment because they’d identified less than 5% of their existing employees as suitable for future leadership roles. By diverting this budget into some of the steps we’ve mentioned here, they could potentially be spending it on something that will build into a greater benefit for their future.

It’s usually the case that people are one of the greatest assets of an organisation. But, as with any asset, they need to be continually looked after and invested in to retain their value. By working through these three steps, you can add untold value to your workforce and even divert other investments towards building a stronger, more loyal team.

Click here to see more information on our leadership programmes and how to motivate your leaders.

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