How to Retain the Right Talent

Guides Inspiration Leadership Development
A clear strategy for how to hire, retain, support, and grow your team.
How to Retain the Right Talent

Is your team experiencing The Great Reshuffle? Do you feel in control and happy with both the employees you’re retaining and those you are losing? 

This shuffle is top of mind for many of my clients too.

As a kickoff icebreaker exercise at a Board meeting recently we Board members were challenged by the Chairman to assemble our “fantasy football” (AKA “fantasy soccer”) version of our staff with only 11 essential employees (or “players”), 5 substitutes on the bench, and two trades (representing the skills/players currently missing from our employee base we need to recruit). This fun, World-Cup-inspired exercise became the thread throughout the rest of our Board meeting – and for good reason! 

Ready to do your own World-Cup-Readiness evaluation? Check out this easy assessment. (This applies to individual contributors as well. You can do this assessment thinking about the people around you who can support your growth goals; like your manager, mentor, sponsor and key stakeholders in your life.)

Identifying Your Star Players

You likely have one or two right-hand people whom you call on in times of crisis. However, it’s worth making sure each role on your team has a lead player rather than relying on a single star performer for full effectiveness.

  • Who is your top scorer? (Who consistently hits their targets, is in top form, and leads from the front with expertise, energy, and attitude?)
  • Who consistently scores the most assists? (Who is the team mentor? Who sets others up for success through open communication and cross-collaboration?) 
  • Who runs the best defense? (Who identifies and solves critical issues early? Who has the best eye for strategy and advanced preparation? Who creates systems and operationalizes success?)

Enrich your team leads by letting them know they are seen and valued. Let them know that you see them as a leader (especially when that is not obvious from their job title). Provide them with resources (time, talent, and funds) at critical moments when heroic efforts are required. Offer them on-the-job learning and development opportunities. Ensure that their compensation includes long-term equity rewards. 

Up-and-coming stars

You might not have the luxury of a deep bench, but you absolutely need to nurture some succession planning through rising stars on your team. Your rising stars are those:

  • who have fresh, advanced skills coming out of graduate or training programs
  • who ask the smart questions and dive into details beyond the confines of their job description or seniority
  • who are passionate about your mission, vision and values and show up with enthusiasm and dedication that is infectious

Set your “bench” up to be your future superstars by giving them mentors and experiences that will create natural apprentices. Allow them to experience different verticals within the organization. 

Gathering Stars

As you fill out your fantasy football team you likely identified a role or two where skills, expertise, or experience are lacking in your current roster. Now is the time to start proactively recruiting for these critical roles. Evaluate:

  • What skills and expertise is currently missing from your team which will be essential in the coming year?
  • Do you have a deep enough bench from which you can backfill, support and succeed your current leadership?
  • Do you have diversity in your team’s background, skills, execution styles and trajectory?

The good news is that each of these categories will be motivated, enriched and retained through similar strategies.

The LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report found that companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it (with an average of 5.4 year tenures compared to the average retention span of 2.9 years) and that “employees who feel their skills are not being put to good use in their current job are 10x more likely to be looking for a new job”. And according to Glint data, having opportunities to learn and grow is now the number 1 factor that people say defines an exceptional work environment.

With this assessment in hand, you will have a clear strategy for how to hire, retain, support, and grow your team that is well-rounded and ready to hit the ground running in 2023.