Leadership For The Future


Holding on to Your Star Players

As we start the Olympic Games in London this week wondering who will be the gold medal winners it seems timely to think about organisations and how they should focus on their own top players.  After all, high performers are the ones most likely to have other options.

Talent management programmes don’t have to be all inclusive or, at the other extreme, open to just a handful of highly able employees.  It is possible to have a hybrid approach where all staff members have access to excellent development opportunities and any retention benefits, while star performers are rewarded with greater performance incentives and wider career options.

So what can you do to hold on to your talented staff?   Studies by McKinsey and other managing consultancy outfits suggest there are five aspects you should consider to retain talented performers:

1.   Identify high performers

♠  Identify criteria to select this group from amongst your staff members.[1]

♠  Get wide organisational agreement as to what constitutes high performance by using your competency framework or focus groups to identify the skills and behaviours of high performers

2.   Set and communicate expectations

♠  Set career and reward expectations to keep high performers engaged

♠  Deliver consistent messages about performance expectations from all levels of management

3.   Be clear on what is different for high performers

♠  Give a clearly differentiated offer for this group such as

– a faster career trajectory

– a more generous reward package, providing high performance is maintained.

♠  Identify relevant secondment and sabbatical opportunities to refresh experience outside the organisation.

4.   Offer support

♠  Encourage regular access to senior leaders

♠  Provide a mentoring programme

5.   Define what success looks like

♠  Define what success will look like for each individual on the programme

♠  Define some qualitative measures such as “how engaged senior leaders are with high performers”

♠  Monitor attraction and retention figures regularly so you have facts to hand about the success of your talent management initiatives

In this recession it is even more imperative that your organisation makes sure that its good performers don’t take an athletic jump to another organisation.   It’s easy to neglect career development and recognition for excellent performance when the agenda is mainly about cutting costs and making roles redundant.

So if your organisation feels a long way from that prized 100m gold medal, there are a few simple things you can put in place to get you a few steps closer . . .