The objective of any great executive is to attract and retain the best staff while letting the incompetent to exit. It is easy to attract incompetent staff and very difficult to get rid of them. Likewise, when you get the best on board, keeping them is very tough.
For this reason, you must always ensure quality at the door and have a continuous process of identifying the best folks and doing all it takes to retain them. True, no one is indispensable. But there is always cost in terms of learning curve when you lose a good staff.
Now you’ve built a great team, how do you prevent them from leaving? Here are three ideas of what seems to work.
Great perks – a free car, fuel card, house benefits, telephone, health insurance, membership in select premium clubs and surprise gifts usually does the magic. This coupled with a competitive pay will make the most ambitious and talented folks keep around. Most people like travelling, keep surprising them with trips. Most important, ensure they are happy at their home. Motivated people want to hold great gadgets. If you can afford it, buy for them.
Share options – for small companies, giving shares based on performance and number of years with the company may work. The catch with reward a star performer with shares in the company is it works best with listed companies. If your business is still a one or two founder’s outfit, you risk bringing on board someone who may be a difficult person to deal with. Some people become thing else when given powers. A business partner is like a soul-mate. Before you admit someone as a shareholder, ensure your values and theirs are congruent. Setting the minimum number of years to say seven prior to one qualifying for equity stake in the business is a good bet. You need time to study your partner. Plus all their ‘ghosts’ should have come out by the end of that period. The benefits of a shareholder should be clearly outlined.
Clear career progression plan – people need to know career growth potential opportunities available in the company. If I am at level A, how do I get to level B? And once I get there what next? Which kind of skills and performance is required of me to get there? What will that mean to my overall career growth. Great people will move on early if they see no good career growth prospects.
Unfortunately, there are few companies with clear working structure for career progression. My experience is that promotion in many companies is highly influenced by subjective metrics like friendship with a supervisor and less so on one’s performance. And that is why, great people will always leave.
Now to you: in your current company, what exactly will keep you or has kept you there for long? I would love to read your insights.
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