We read, create and participate in research pertaining to attracting and retaining top talent all the time. Research that clearly illustrates why employees stay and why they leave. Just last week I stumbled upon an article by Kris Dunn confirming the fact the employees don't leave for more money. Employees stay for the people and connections they have made, the challenges they encounter and the impact they can have on the overall organization. These employees are sometimes referred to as "rock stars." Interestingly enough, everyone thinks they are a rock star, a manager of a rock star or rock star managers themselves. However, when you dig deep you will find that most of the managers aren't rock stars and neither are most employees. Paraphrasing below, Kris says

With luck and a little attention from you, the majority are actually solid, steady performers your company needs to get the daily work done. True stars are easy to spot but hard to keep. They're not only productive, but innovative and creative - and they like to learn new things.

True stars juggle multiple projects both inside and outside of an organization. They are used to working at a fast pace and thrive in an active environment where they can participate on many different levels. These folks are hard to retain. And truth be told, money won't keep them. So, how can you avoid the typical pitfalls we encounter as managers? As noted in Kris' article:

  1. Provide a continuous learning environment - consisting of 10% of the job
  2. Allow your star to be mentored by someone "cool"
  3. Give them high-visibility projects and provide feedback
  4. Be as aggressive as you can on the compensation front

The key to retaining your employees, especially your rock stars, is to measure their perceptions. Not just once - continuously. That data should be benchmarked and trended over time to provide a valid view of your internal audiences. Then act on that data. What is it telling you? How can you make shifts along the way to accommodate your employees? A little effort can pay off in millions of dollars saved by not re-recruiting talent.

Bradley Savoy makes a great point:

Perhaps the most important practice we have learned from our research is that consistent measurement of employee perception is the most important step an organization can take to improve their brand experience.

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