Develop your top performers so they don't fly the coop

by Saba Software | Posted | Learning

Develop your top performers so they don\'t fly the coop

If someone's already performing at the top of their game it could be a signal that he or she needs some new challenges brought their way. Top performers need to be challenged, developed and nurtured - just like anyone else in the organizations - maybe even more so.

A talented, but bored employee, might soon ‘fly the coop' if you fail to make a true investment in them. That investment could involve assigning more responsibility, setting stretch goals to challenge or creating a personalized training plan to grow their skills.

If we stick with the bird analogy, this means taking a ‘spread the wings,' rather than a ‘clipping of the wings' approach to employee development.

Okay, enough about wings, you get the idea. You need to develop these prized individuals or risk losing them, which can be a real blow to your organization.

Why you should care about retaining top talent

  • The top performer differential is 2.5 to 10 times that of an average employee (Sullivan, 2008).
  • According to the Corporate Executive Board, "Superstars" produce up to 12 times more than the average employee.
  • The top 3% of salespeople produce up to 250% more than average; the top 20% produce 120% more.*
  • The top 3% of programmers produce 1200% more lines of code than the average; the top 20% produce 320% more than average.*
  • If you're a manufacturing organization, research shows that paper plants managed by ‘A players' - or top performers - have 94% higher profits than other paper plants.*
  • For those of you in financial services, research also shows that ‘A Player investment bankers' are 2x more productive than average bankers.*

Hate to break this to you but...your top performers will leave first

It's sad, but true, when economic times improve, the best leave first; simply because they have more experience and will have more attractive opportunities awaiting them in the outside world.

What can you do before it's too late?

Some companies try to stave off these impending departures, by making a ‘counter offer.'

Unfortunately this tactic is seldom effective. Research tells us that 70 to 80% of disengaged employees that do come back to the same position with a counter offer leave within nine months.

And HCI reports that when a top performer does leave, it costs the organization $7,000 a day to operate without them if they are in a key position.

Some sage advice for retaining talent

Towers Watson (2009) offers some pointers for keeping top talent loyal, engaged and contributing to organizational success, among them:

  • Provide your top performers with the tools, resources and work conditions they need to work to the best of their abilities
  • Support the career progression and professional growth of your top talent

The latter demands that employee development plans be put into place for each individual, with the goal of enriching their skills and experience.

Employee development can help your organization:

  • build alignment
  • increase employee morale, engagement
  • increase productivity and preserve organizational memory/knowledge
  • establish domain expertise and maintain a competitive advantage

The more mature and integrated your employee development programs are with your talent management processes and your organizational strategy, the more value you'll realize from them.

Employee development programs are generally recognized to be an important way to ensure your organization and employees have the skills they need to succeed. They're also an important tool to support employee engagement and retention - so your top performers won't be tempted to fly the coop.

Now ask yourself, what are three things your organization can do now to boost your accuracy in identifying and nurturing top talent? How will you integrate these activities into your retention and engagement strategy?

There are some great resources out there to learn more about how to develop and retain your top performers. Twenty-one of these resources are only a click away at Halogen's Center of Excellence for developing and retaining top talent.

At the Center you'll find expert articles, white papers, archived webinars, and real-world customer case studies on the topic. It's definitely worth checking out because, let's face it, losing your top performers to the competition simply won't do.

*Source: Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People by Bradford D. Smart, PhD (April 7, 2005)

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