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Why Can’t You Retain Top Talent?

“Being the best at whatever talent you have, that’s what stimulates life.”

~Tom Landry

The competitive nature of today’s global economy stipulates that you have and retain the top talent in your organization. We acknowledge that to do so is as great of a challenge as it has ever been.

A recent article in USA Today highlighted how American workers are on the move. They reported that “27 percent of employees switched jobs in the 12 months ending in the first quarter according to payroll processor ADP, the most since the firm began tracking the figure in 2014.”

So what is a leader to do in order to retain and recruit top talent for their organizations? We have identified several characteristics that may shed some light on why your top talent may be headed through that revolving door. We believe as you take care of these leadership issues you can build the type of team that people would want to work for and think twice about leaving. But first, why are they leaving?

Lack of clear expectations

Nothing will frustrate your top talent more than a lack of a clear set of expectations and vision. Without it, your organization is adrift and your people struggle to find their way. Employees have to fight extra hard to succeed when they do not clearly understand what is expected of them in the first place. The constant feeling that they are not performing at an acceptable level, even if they don’t know what that level is, will send top talent running for the door.

Lack of investment

Your top talent needs to know that you are totally invested in their success. The buy-in is a two-way street and it needs to be demonstrated in tangible ways that reinforce your commitment to their success. Your investment in them shows that they are valued and that you are confident in their ability to make a meaningful contribution to the organization. When top talent feels that you do not value them enough to invest your time and resources in them, they will begin to seek an employer who will.

Perceived lack of respect

The culture and morale of your organization rest on foundational leadership principles. Namely among them are trust and respect. Top talent is especially attuned to the respect or lack thereof, that you have for them. These employees have devoted much of their lives to developing the skills, knowledge, and experience that make them so valuable. If the people in your organization perceive that you do not respect them, then it only stands to reason that they will be a part of a future exit from your organization.

Lack of a clear path forward

We want to be very clear about this leadership principle. Unless your people have a clear path forward, it will be clear to them that they are in the wrong place. In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell writes, “You can find smart, talented, successful people who are able to go only so far because of the limitations of their leadership.” It could be that the top talent in your organization is leaving, not because of a lack of opportunity, but because of a lack of leadership and a clear vision as to where they are going. It is incumbent upon you as the leader to provide it.

Lack of authentic leadership

Nothing will demoralize your people or your team members more quickly than a phony leader. Besides, too much is at stake for a leader to be anything other than genuine. Authenticity is the foundation for trust. No one wants to work for a leader who cannot be trusted. If you lack authenticity, employees will start to question your motives; they will perceive that you have hidden agendas that are not in their best interests. If the top talent within your organization can’t find authentic leadership where they are, they will look elsewhere for it.

We all have the desire to succeed; we want to know that our contributions are valued and that we are making a difference. Top talent has sacrificed far too much to achieve their level of skill to compromise on the leadership environment they work in. Provide them with the clear expectations they need to be successful. Invest your time and resources in helping them achieve great things. Leave no doubt as to how much you respect and trust them and their abilities. Provide them with a clear path forward and the means to follow that path. And, be an authentic leader, someone that top talent can look up to and emulate.

Your organization can only rise as high as your top talent. Isn’t it time to start retaining those employees who have the potential to add so much value? What adjustments will you make to your leadership today?

Editor’s Note: This article was co-authored with Liz Stincelli

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Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickersonhttps://www.dougdickerson.net/
DOUG has been speaking to audiences in the U.S. and overseas for more than 30 years. Doug knows how to spin a story, make you laugh, and how to challenge your traditional ways of thinking about leadership. Most of all, Doug is committed to helping you grow as a leader. Doug is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Palmetto Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. While his leadership expertise has its roots in ministry and teaching. His background also includes public relations and business. Doug understands the necessity of leadership development and why creating a leadership culture in your organization is critical to your success. He is the author of four leadership books including: Leaders Without Borders, 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders, Great Leaders Wanted, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, and Leadership by the Numbers. As a speaker, Doug delivers practical and applicable leadership insights with a dose of humor and authenticity that endears him to a wide range of audiences. Doug is a John Maxwell Team member.

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7 CONVERSATIONS

  1. I love this Doug. I have been preaching this for years. Finding and retaining top talent is the essence of success. to often companies will take a lesser qualified candidate because they ask for less money. I have hear we can’t afford that candidate so many times yet someone else being your competition did him them..

  2. These are all bad reasons for top talent to leave. There are also good reasons to leave. More money, a better position and many others. That is why you need a team approach. You not only need talent to lead the way. You need others ready to take over for whatever reason. Top talent needs vacation time, may be in a car wreck or get ill. I will not stand in the way of anther’s career advancement.

  3. I remember overhearing a high performer talking to his director at 6:00pm. The high performer was pick up the slack from a few lazy folk in the department. He was concerned and frustrated that he was spread too thin. The director responded with that he should just be happy having a job. The high performer quit later that month.

    I firmly believe a lot of the senior management actually believe the trash they say.

    • Thanks for your input there, Chris, it’s sad that these things go on, but it’s why we must keep raising the awareness.

  4. Excellent article Doug! I wanted to chime in here – I could not agree more about the points made to retain top talent. I’m afraid that many of our organizational leaders may take top talent for granted, thereby failing to take into account the points illustrated in your article here~

    Competition can and will snag them in a heartbeat if our top talent isn’t receiving the value, respect, and attention they deserve.

    That’s a tough one to swallow when it happens. Leadership is a 24/7 role and that includes devoting attention to our key performers.

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