Retaining your Top Talent


Loads have been written and debated on top talent and how important it is to retain them. There are many many prescriptions already aimed at retaining them. Let’s think what drives away the top talent and hence, those are the don’ts!

First and foremost, the top talent looks for a place that rewards fair play. The challenge here is that fairness is not binary. Leaders do not realize when they appear to be unfair. Something might appear very fair and normal to the leader while the people in the team might think otherwise. Similarly, there are instances when it simply doesn’t occur to the leader that his/ her actions ooze unfairness. The latter is easier to address if the leader is curious and willing to listen. The former is a big challenge. Institutions typically invest energies in multiple modes of communication, run workshops to develop a shared understanding of fairness among the employees and partners. These do not seem to work unless the core of the issue is addressed by simple, clear and honest discussions. So, it’s all about the top talent experiencing fairness on a consistent basis. Don’t be a hypocrite!

Secondly, it’s about the freedom and independence granted to them. Institutions, especially the large ones, need a framework for governance else the system could go haywire. At times, systems are designed by people who are either in Brownian motion or lack the sight of the big picture. Hence, the systems appear to be a no-trust towards the employee. Nobody likes to work under excessive surveillance. Similarly, there are many instances where the power needs to be distributed across multiple roles for the sake of good governance. However, if it’s over-regulation, the system turns bureaucratic and starts ejecting top talent. So, it’s about having an environment of trust for the top talent to stay. Don’t snatch freedom from your best people and bind them with too many regulations!

Last but not the least, talented people look for their growth and development. This seems natural and obvious, but actually very tough to fufill because the ideas around growth and development are different for different people. Someone might link it to pay or promotion while someone else might mean a certain kind of a role or a certain kind of a training or a certain kind of a positioning. Organisations are very focused on what they think are right for them and do not really invest energy to find out what their people are looking for. At the best, organizations offer a list of things like a menu card to their people to make choices. In the process, many lose their top talent to either to their competition or to some other industry sector. It’s about a sense of fulfillment for the people and hence, focusing on what interests them and gives them a sense of growth and learning is important. Don’t run the agenda based on what suits you!

Sounds simple, the key lies in execution!


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