I know two people who are actively looking for a new job. They show up at work each day, slog through their daily tasks, and take solace in the fact that they will be out the door within a few months. They are both highly regarded in their respective organizations, but they have made up their minds that it’s time to go and they are excited about what’s next for them. We’ve talked about how they can stay engaged in their work and not expose what’s really going on – not behave in a way that gives away their secret.

Both of these organizations will lose an employee who has brought great value to the organization and real dedication to their work. However, they grew disillusioned and leadership missed the opportunity to retain them.

As a leader it’s essential to pay close attention to those employees you can’t afford to lose and to notice shifts that may indicate their dissatisfaction. A recent article in Harvard Business Review outlined 13 “tells” that will let you know who on your team might be planning their exit. The 13 pre-quitting behaviors all center around shifts in focus, commitment, and engagement that signal a stepping away or pulling back that can affect a team’s results and the organization overall.

To avoid being blind-sided by a star performer who walks away from your organization, the article recommends conducting “stay interviews” where you learn more about what drives the employee and what their personal and professional goals are, and then make a plan for helping them achieve those goals within your organization. In addition, there are three simple things you can do to help make sure you keep your keepers:

  • Acknowledge their work – Don’t take the work of your best people for granted. Make sure you are rewarding their efforts through incentives, visibility, compensation, or developmental opportunities.
  • Check in regularly – Make time to meet regularly with your best people. Take them to lunch once a month, have weekly check-ins, promote your open-door policy so that you can stay connected and be attuned to any change in behavior, attitude, or commitment.
  • Solicit feedback – Ensure that you ask your star performers for feedback on how things are going, how you are doing, and how they are progressing in their role. The other aspect of feedback is hearing what others perceive about your star performers. Solicit regular feedback about how they are doing, what shifts others see, and what opportunities can be presented to them.

Don’t take your top performers for granted. Engage them, challenge them, and reward them so that they see the benefits of staying and can continue to bring value to your organization, or else you may be facing losing your best employees, like my friends’ organizations will unfortunately soon be doing.

What steps have you taken to retain a star employee?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For help in your employee retention strategy, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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