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Retaining Top Talent – Managing Top Performers

September 25, 2009

How will you keep your top performers?  They may see layoffs all around them and wonder when they will be next.  Or, they are working harder than ever and having to take a pay cut.  I am not an expert on the subject, but after reading a lot of articles, I saw the common threads.

Communicate.  Direct, honest, frequent and two-way.  Listen to your team.  Build open and honest relationships through communication.   Make a personal connection through communication.  Inc. Magazine article on How to Communicate:

Stay true to your company’s mission, vision and values.  Show how you “walk the talk”.  Be humble. Be passionate and determined about the business and your team.  Layoffs should be handled with dignity, kindness and respect.  A podcast from BusinessWeek – Smart Answers on How to Handle Layoffs

Get your team involved.  Build a positive team with an ownership spirit.  Empower them by asking their opinion.  Create a little fun.  Be open-minded.   Build collaboration.  Another podcast on Why a Sense of Ownership Matters:

Recognize top performers:  There are many ways to accomplish this goal and they don’t have to involve money.

  • Make the conversation about them.  Focus on their careers and encourage career development through growth and learning. 
  • Say “Thank You”.   Praise them for a job well-done or going the extra mile.  
  • Notice signs of stress and overload.  Help alleviate by assigning work more efficiently and establish realistic expectations.
  • Learn what motivates them. 
  • Allow them to try new things – new technologies will grow their skills, give you a more skilled and diverse workforce and potentially save money and increase efficiency.

Upgrade talent. Winners like to work with winners and losers bring down the team either with poor performance or creating a toxic environment for the rest of the team.  Now is a great time to raise the bar and make a few strategic hires that will elevate your team. 

I found this great summary as well and it relates directly to managing and leading top performers:


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