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Top 10 Things Leaders Must Be Doing to Retain Top Talent

Retaining top talent isn’t easy, their skills and mindsets are always going to be in demand. And the competition can be fierce. This is our top ten list, of course there is more you can do to retain your employees, but these are the 10 that we think are imperative.

Spoiler Alert! Every single one of these has to do with you as a leader. Every leader in your organization needs to be focused on these. It is a leader’s responsibility to retain people. You’ve all heard it: people leave managers, not their companies.

  1. Do a listening tour. Listen to what the people have to say. Listen more than you’re talking in these conversations and ask questions like, “what’s working?,” “what’s not working?,” “what’s the biggest untapped opportunity that you see?,” and “what would you do if you were in my position?” A listening tour shows people they’re valued and gives them the opportunity to provide insights and share their innovative thinking. When you wrap up the tour, attack the critical situations. There will be some critical issues or concerns that you can solve right off the bat that will have a huge impact. It’s one thing to listen, but it’s another thing to act on what you heard.
  2. Bring your authentic self to work. Be who you are. Authenticity builds trust. We need to encourage our team to also bring their authentic selves. Don’t assume that they’re just going to bring their authentic selves because you do. You want authentic employees in your organization who can share their thoughts and ideas without hesitation. These are the employees who infuse innovation into the workplace.
  3. Be the calm in the storm when things are chaotic. Don’t add more wind and thunder to an already existing hurricane. Figure out how to calm the seas so that the rest of the team can calm down as well. Where the leader goes, so go the employees, if you’re calm, you can collectively bring down the anxiety level of the team.
  4. There’s no such thing as work/life balance. Work and life are a teeter totter. Trying to find this balance is a waste of time because we’re not going to be able to find it. There will be times that we need to give more support and time at home and times that more attention is required at work. As leaders, it’s key that we show that not only do we understand this, but we also can empathize with our employees when they need to tip that teeter totter to home.
  5. Think 10X. Don’t think next level, instead think, “how can I get to a 10X version of myself?” If you start dreaming big, you’re going to start living and acting big. This concept from Dan Sullivan, says that next level thinking is just more of the same. 10x visioning jumps beyond. It requires operating in an entirely different way to bypass the stress and complications of a next level goal. Apply this to yourself, your team, and your company. Big ideas and visions are VERY intriguing to top talent. They want to be a part of contributing to something big. When you determine what the 10X vision is that you have for your team or for your company, share that consistently, clearly, and frequently.
  6. Empower each of your leaders to do what’s needed to take care of their teams. One size does not fit all and blanket policies across an organization don’t work. You don’t need a 50-page employee handbook, you need stronger leaders who can empower employees and hold them accountable. Leaders must understand each of their team members, what they need and when they need it and provide the support needed. Empowering our leaders and giving them the authority to take an individualized approach with their teams will ensure the best possible outcomes from our teams, company and clients.
  7. Consistency is everything. My dad has been telling me this since I was five years old. Consistency consistencyconsistency. Your personality, behaviors, decisions, and follow-through need to be consistent. This builds trust and respect. If your people don’t know what mood you’re going to be in when they call you up via zoom or they walk into your office, that’s going to put them on edge and that’s not an environment they’re going to want to be in for very long.
  8. Beware of the marathon effect. You’ve been training for a race for a year, you’re in the race on mile 22, almost ready to finish and heading around the last corner – but your team is still back at the starting line tying their shoes. That’s the marathon effect. When we make a decision or a significant change in our organization, we’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about it, planning for it, discussing it, hashing out issues, and thinking about obstacles that might come our way. By the time we start bringing in our teams we’re already MILES ahead of everyone else. Your team, through no fault of their own, has not been there with you during this initial thought process. It’s your role to invite them to run with you. They may only get to mile 10 or 18, depending on their position in the company or level of involvement with a project so be mindful of where everyone is at on any given process or project.
  9. Start with WHY. We all learned this from Simon Sinek. He says that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The nature of the world that we’re in is that every decision we make is most likely going to have some sort of pushback, but if your decisions are being made based on your core values you can explain why you made the decision. Even if some people disagree with your decision, they will respect you. They will trust you because they understand why you’re doing it. Always start with the why, no matter what it is, whether it’s big or small. A change in policy, a change in product, a change in strategic direction, who you’re hiring or how you’re hiring. All of these things should have a why behind them and be explained to your employees.
  10. High Impact Communication. Clear, consistent, intentional communication. When we do culture assessments with clients, communication is always the number one issue that shows up. Communication is SO challenging, there are so many ways to communicate and to miscommunicate. Your communication must have a consistent cadence with complete transparency. Think about how information flows through your company, from team to team, within teams, from individual to individual, and to your customers. Words matter, and as leaders, we need to show our direct reports and colleagues that we take that seriously. Be curious by asking questions. Candidly listen to others and communicate back with empathetic honesty. Engage in courageous conversations. Don’t hide or push things you don’t know, or don’t want to discuss, under the rug. Commit to a conversation and show that you are truly there and listening with a desire to understand and support. Nowhere is communication more needed, and more undervalued, than in meetings. Effective meetings are on time and on topic. Move through the agenda that was pre-set and ensure the team walks out with to-dos: who’s doing what and by when. You can get a lot done in these meetings and show respect to your team by not wasting their valuable time.

Take one or two nuggets from this top 10 list that you can implement into your leadership growth journey, and into your organization, to retain as many of your top leaders and employees as possible. I love helping leaders get stronger and raise up their level of leadership to become that conscious leader and create a conscious culture in their organization. Don’t be the lid of your team, or company, by stunting your own growth.

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