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The Most Effective Way To Hold Onto Your Best People

Who are the five most valuable people in your business? What would happen to your business if just one of them left? How much technical expertise, how much project experience, how much client knowledge, how many crucial relationships would be lost as they walked out the door?

In any business, people are your greatest asset.

We tend to be very prudent when it comes to assessing risk on our capital assets. We are careful to insure them adequately, we maintain them well and often include a preventative maintenance program. We have back-up power and a back-up plan so that interruptions are minimised.

Our people are more valuable than these capital assets and yet we tend to be much less prudent in managing the risk of losing them. We usually know who our best people are, we know the people who have unique knowledge or unique skills, we are conscious of the enormous gap that would be left if they became unwell or left the business and yet we do very little to minimise or mitigate the risk.

We tend to be aware of, but take very little action to actually reduce, this risk and the business vulnerability.

Does this reflect the situation in your business?

What can, and what should you do, to keep your best people engaged, thus making it less likely they will be lured by your competitors?

People become, and stay, engaged when they feel motivated to do their best work and when they feel appreciated for their contribution to the team and the business.

It is therefore critical that you know precisely what motivates each person in your team. Is it ensuring that they have interesting and challenging work? Is it knowing that they will have the resources to do their job? Does the group of people they are working with on the project motivate them? Is it knowing that their ability and willingness to do a variety of tasks increases their job security?

Each person has 3-5 strong motivational drivers and when you know these you can ‘push’ these drivers and thus help the person to become, and to remain, strongly motivated.

When people are highly motivated they do their best work and they feel a high level of satisfaction. This enables them to really enjoy their job and the business they work in, so they are unlikely to seek work elsewhere.

There is a pertinent quote: ‘We go where we are wanted, we stay where we are appreciated.’ Often your best people achieve enormously with few demands and little fanfare. They don’t demand resources or feedback, where others who are less competent and less confident can demand much of your time and energy. As a result it is easy to unwittingly take your best people for granted. How sad it is to sit in an exit interview when the HR Manager asks the person their main reason for leaving the business and they reply “Well, I didn’t ever really feel valued.” And their manager is interrupting to protest, “But Jason, you know I believe you are one of our most valuable team members.” If only the manager had remembered to tell Jason while he was still a member of the team.

To your team’s success,