OnlineSpin: How To Retain Your Top Performers

Last week Matt wrote “Confessions Of A Citizen Journalist.”Thomas O’Toole wrote in response, “Agree with nearly all of this, and I enthusiastically agree with your points about (1) the need to refrain from criticism and (2) the need to refrain from humor.These are hard areas to resist, but I feel that humor and criticism both clearly impaired my early blogging efforts.I disagree somewhat with your thoughts about web design. In my subject area (law), there are many great but ugly blogs.”

Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 
How To Retain Your Top Performers 
By Matt Straz

The market for salespeople, account managers and engineers is so fierce today that recruiters, startups and established companies are all trying to attract the best talent. How will you retain your top performers in the face of such competition?The key is to build a culture and process that naturally repels your competitors. Here are 10 steps for building a company that can retain its top employees:1. Have a compelling mission. The best employees today want more than a job: They want something they can believe in. Attract and retain the best people with a mission they can rally around.2. Identify your top performers: Any company with more than a few dozen employees needs a system for identifying and managing its top performers. Modern performance management systems can help you track your best and brightest.

3. Solicit ongoing feedback. Annual reviews are fine, but hanging onto your talent requires frequent feedback. Regular engagement with employees, including online feedback and in-person coaching, is essential.

4. Head off compensation issues. Don’t wait for compensation to be an issue for your top performers. Get ahead of such issues with salary increases, option grants and other forms of compensation.

5. Set ambitious goals. Retaining top people isn’t just about giving them everything they want. Great employees need to be constantly challenged, or they will get bored and leave.

6. Hire well. Great employees want to work alongside other great employees. Keep you hiring standards high, no matter how much pressure there is to grow.

7. Lead by example. No manager or CEO ever inspired people by sitting behind a desk all day. Get out among your employees and customers and lead by example.

8. Go the extra mile. A personal touch is essential to building true loyalty. Going out of your way to champion people who are doing a great job and helping them when they have an occasional personal issue shows that you have a human side.

9.Communicate. The more open you are with your top performers, the more they will want to help. Sharing revenue goals or fundraising milestones can give everyone a shared sense of purpose.

10. Loosen up. Relaxing dress codes and letting people be themselves is key to attracting and retaining today’s most innovative employees.

Matt Straz was a senior partner at MEC from 2002-2008. He is currently the CEO of Namely. 

Online Spin for Monday, Oct. 7, 2013:

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