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Business Journal
How to Keep Talented Staff
Business Journal

How to Keep Talented Staff

Companies must have foresight and material help

by Verapong Paditporn and Divya Verma

Recently, more and more Thai firms are thinking about how they can be competitive in the global market. Companies are also beginning to realise that the quality of their people is critical to their competitive edge.

One might say, "How do we select a talented employee?" But a smarter question would be "How can we keep our talented employees?" as the financial implications of losing a single talented employee are enormous.

A few years ago, The Gallup Organization initiated multi-regional and cultural research to study the difference between a "good" and a "great" workplace and "engaged" and "disengaged" employees. Twelve differentiating dimensions emerged; six are vital to stop bleeding talented employees.

Know what is expected of me at work. First, do your employees know exactly what is expected of them? When they walk in the door every day, can they measure their progress against well-defined goals? If they can't, they may never have a sense of achievement in their role.

If expectations are unclear, employees will inevitably face frustration, and will be open for other opportunities where they do know what's expected of them, and where their contributions are measured and recognised.

Materials and equipment. Do you supply the right tools to support the skills, experience and talents of your employees?

Even Tiger Woods would find it difficult to get the ball close to the green with a sand wedge from 270 yards. He obviously has the talent, but he would not have the right tools. Similarly, your employees need the right tools and equipment to perform their jobs at an optimum level.

Do what I do best every day. Are your employees cast in the right roles? Just because an individual is gifted in a particular area, it does not mean he has a full array of talents for any and every role.

Big talent sometimes is very specialised and narrow, and knowing each employee's boundaries and limitations is key to avoiding burnout.

For example, if an individual is an excellent speaker, do you also assume she is a great teacher? Some individuals do combine both abilities, but the performance demands for these roles are very different. Knowing the critical demands for every role is a key to ensuring that talents fit those demands.

Supervisor/Someone at work cares. Do your valued employees know that someone at work cares about them -- preferably their manager or supervisor?

If they don't, your company will find it difficult to retain them. Your employees' relationship with their manager or supervisor is critical in turning talent into lasting performance and excellence.

In addition, is there an ongoing dialogue and solid communication with your best employees? Do your managers spend most of their time with their most productive talent? Many managers give their greatest degree of attention to employees who are falling behind.

Talented, productive people crave time and attention from their managers, and will leave your company if they have a weak relationship -- or no relationship -- with their manager or supervisor.

Co-workers committed to quality. Do you surround your stars with other individuals who are constantly driving standards of quality to a higher level?

Many companies arbitrarily put teams together without considering that employees only psychologically commit to teams if they perceive their team members will support their high level of commitment and performance.

Talented staff set high standards and depend upon those around them to support their growth toward excellence.

Opportunities to learn and grow. Does your company create an environment that encourages employees to drive toward innovation or to create better systems for more productive results?

Talented staff need to be "stretched" in just the right ways to fully engage them. We all need to look back and see that we are truly progressing and learning, that we're achieving new levels of personal and professional growth. Great managers ask what skills and knowledge need to accompany talent to result in the greatest outcome for each person.

According to our research, there is nothing very complicated about retaining great talent -- these six elements are the keys. If you want to keep the talented employees you recruit, your company must be clear about what you expect from your employees. You need to provide employees with the materials and equipment they need to perform their jobs, as well as give them the opportunities to do what they do best, every day.

You also must ensure that your employees have a manager or supervisor who cares about them, surround talented employees with co-workers who have a similar drive for quality, and finally, provide opportunities for employees to learn and grow.

Companies who can do these things will be successful in keeping their most talented employees. Those who cannot will continue to bleed talent, and their quest to become an "employer of choice" will continue to be hazardous to their health.

This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post on July 2, 2003. Reprinted with permission.

Verapong Paditporn was a Partner of Gallup in Bangkok, Thailand.
Divya Verma is a Consultant for Gallup in Bangkok, Thailand.
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