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Saturday, May 14, 2011

4 Things You Can Do To Keep Your Top Talent from Becoming Free Agents

I have written a number of blogs that talk about what organizations and employees can do to ensure that there is a balanced and positive working relationship (see, for example, Is Your Employment Relationship In Balance - Tipping the Scales In Your Favour, Are You A Strategic Partner or A Bureaucrat and When Is It Time to Move On 

I recently read an interesting article entitled "Will your best employees split because they can?" written by Allison Hemming and appearing in the March 21, 2011 edition of Fortune magazine.  This article reaffirmed my position that organizations and leaders should not take a passive approach to managing talent within their organizations; to do so would be at their peril.  In fact, talent, is often one of the most valuable assets of an organization and successful organizations know this.  This was reaffirmed by David Overton, the founder of the billion-dollar restaurant chain, Cheesecake Factory, in his advice in an article entitled "Cheesecake Factory's Winning Formula" appearing in the May 2, 2011 edition of Fortune magazine:  "Focus on people ... In this business it's all location, location, location.  But once you grow, it's all people, people, people." 

Allison Hemming's article offers four key suggestions:
  1. Know who they are - find key attributes that separate true stars from the rest, then rank your team and then focus on those employees who can execute your current business plan.
  2. Do some shopping - research the market value of your people and compare it to their current pay and the cost of having to replace them.
  3. Set up a powwow - let your star employees tell you what they need, they may not always be looking for just more cash, they may be looking for a new role or clarity around their career path.
  4. Step up - if they deserve a raise or promotion, make it happen as soon as possible and if you can't, then let them know what you intend to do and the timing of when you will address this. Add some public praise, it makes people feel great and it also signals to others your definition of excellence.
Most employees know that job security is more of an illusion these days and the definitions of organizational loyalty and long service are being re-written.  Consequently, progressive employers and leaders, who understand that all employees are free agents, often are proactive and take every appropriate measure to shore up their key talent.  Key or "KEEN" talent (talent who are knowledge and have experience, expertise, and developed relationship networks) is usually your single biggest contributor to bottom line profitability and like every other significant asset, needs to be protected. 

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