High-performing employees are your most important asset--here's how to keep them around for the long term.
It's no secret that some employees perform better than others. And while it takes all kinds of people to make the world go 'round, high performers are every company's most valuable resource. These are the employees who bring the greatest value to your business--and to your customers--so it pays to do whatever you can to keep them happy, engaged and with your company for the long run.
Here are 5 steps that will keep your high performers from looking elsewhere.
1. Keep Them Entertained
One reason these employees excel is that they're smart, active and curious--they are always looking for something new and interesting to do. Satisfy that need by providing them with a constant stream of interesting assignments and projects. Need some new ideas on how to cut costs in your shipping operation while making it greener? Or looking for new ways to promote your products via social media? Offer your high performers the assignment.
2. Give Them Visibility
Everyone wants to be recognized when they do something good for their organizations, and your best employees are no different. Provide them the visibility they crave by inviting them to give presentations to your board, lead high-profile teams or participate in management offsite meetings. Encourage them to make connections with other high performers in your organization and to work on important projects together--and then invite them to present the results to your executive team.
3. Provide Them With Mentors
Your top employees will benefit (and be further engaged in their organization and in their work) from being assigned to a mentor who can help provide advice, career guidance and connections to others in their network. But it shouldn't be just any mentor--find senior employees who have a real knack for engaging with younger people, while giving them the advice and support they need.
4. Make Them Responsible--and Then Reward Them
The stronger the employee, the more they will thrive on being challenged by work assignments. While they may occasionally make mistakes--or even fail--don't hesitate to delegate important assignments to your high performers. Put them in charge of a new customer initiative, assign them to leadership roles in cross-functional teams, or have them start a new venture in an entirely new area of business for your company. And, when they perform well, don't forget to reward them for their hard work.
5. Create Clear Pathways for Growth and Advancement
It's essential to make it clear to your top employees that they will have opportunities for advancement. If they don't see a future with your organization, or if they think that they will have to wait too long to advance, then they will look for opportunities outside your company. Set aside time to chart out a career plan, with clear milestones, training and assessments along the way. Expose them to a broad and varied range of assignments so they will have the exposure they need to become effective executives.
It's never a good time to lose a great employee. Make a point of identifying your high-performing employees, and then actively take steps to ensure you retain them.
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PETER ECONOMY is the best-selling author of Managing For Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 60 other books. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years. @bizzwriter