How do you retain key staff?

By Ben Venter

Not by chance.

Retention of the talent that make a real contribution is leadership driven. It requires a belief that people are the enterprises’ competitive advantage. It must be part of the ethos of an organisation. It is not a soft option.

The leader who opts for this option is likely to say: “Any organisation that thinks it can guarantee job security is going down a dead end. Only satisfied customers can give people job security. Not companies”.

It is an ethos which recognises effort and achievement.

People soon realise that merit is the basis for decisions that shape reward incentives like salary increments, bonuses or share options as well as development opportunities and promotions.

Good retention rates require that the essentials are in place. Can the candidate’s aspirations be satisfied?  Is the money, convenience of getting to and from work, hours, experience and qualifications all in order?

The more difficult retention challenge is to ensure employee engagement. People who experience a sense of achievement, personal growth or security, positive support and recognition are positioned to experience a sense of engagement which comes from being able to identify with, and participate in achieving the vision of the enterprise.

Engagement depends on the skill set of the manager. Research confirms that “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers”.

Does the manager view recruitment as a tedious time-consuming process of filling a vacancy and hoping that this appointment will be more successful than the previous attempt? Or worse still has the manager  abdicated and is content to leave the building of capacity to the specialists? Or is the acquisition of talent viewed as an opportunity to add another productive member to the team so that it is better equipped to achieve the operational targets necessary to build client loyalty – that elusive element of job security?

How well is the manager equipped to build “a strong workplace”?

Does the manager fully understand the demands which the position, any position, will exert on the incumbent? Can the manager relate to the difficulty of:

–   friendly, patient, conscientious interaction with customers, who may have been inconvenienced, for most part of the day

–   or, working in isolation and consistently anticipating problems which could have costly, even fatal, consequences

–   or, managing a team of 15 financial consultants and achieving a 30% increase in production

Does the manager understand that unless people possess the inherent talents to perform the work described above they will have to expend a lot of energy, or tolerate extreme frustration, just to adapt to demands of the work, before being able to consistently produce the measureable outputs?

Does the manager know whether the applicant, sitting across the desk, has the specific talents necessary to succeed and what it takes to manage the diversity of talents in the team?

These are the basic management skills required to build a strong engaged workplace. Managers who possess them can be held accountable, and rewarded for identifying, developing and retaining talent to give the enterprise the competitive advantage.

Leave A Comment