Last week, I was watching an interview of the one and only STEVE JOBS, the founder of APPLE. He was talking about the team that works in Apple and how everyone shares ideas, exchanges views and have constructive arguments. The interviewer asked ‘Do you win all the arguments?’ Steve smiled and replied, ‘Oh no! I wish I did!’ and he continued, ‘You can’t. If you wanna hire great people and have them stay and working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to run the company by IDEAS, not by HIERARCHY. The best ideas have to win. Otherwise good people won’t STAY.’
Hiring is one of the critical tasks for the Human Resource Managers. However, retaining the best employees seems to be even tougher job. No matter which industry you belong to, there will always be your competitors who would offer better compensation and benefit packages and snatch away your best guys. How to deal with this? Sometimes you just have to accept the reality. In 2008, I was lucky to be part of a Finnish company that just started its operations in Bangladesh. Being the Chief Operating Officer of that multinational, I was not only involved in hiring of the employees but also dealt with the critical situations when some of our key employees wanted to switch to another company. I would like to share some useful tips that might help you retaining your best ones for longer term.
Best employees usually know that they are the BEST. Companies don’t fire them; rather they fire the company (switch to somewhere else)! They don’t like to work ‘for’ the company, rather ‘with’ the company. You need to give them that kind of feeling. If you tie them up with the general rules and regulations of the company and make them abide by each and every rules and policies work by work, you might end up losing them. Bossing around with them or showing them employer vs. employee attitude won’t bring anything good for you, that’s for sure. Most of the organizations forget to remember this and they pay the price eventually.
Treating everyone equally is good thing to do but all of your employees are not equal. Some are unproductive, some are average, some are good and some are exceptional. You need to treat them accordingly. Best guys would like to work with the other best guys or at least with the better guys, so just make sure your team is not loaded with some below average guys.
Another key area is the utilization of talent and skill in your workplace. I personally quitted couple of jobs in my early career just because I thought I was underutilized. Salary and benefits are not always the issues. One of the survey result shows that the best employees always like to have more challenging tasks instead of just sitting idle. A motivated employee wants to contribute to work areas even outside of his or her specific job description.
As Steve Jobs said, there’ll always be difference of opinion with your best employees because they can think differently and they are not the average guys who would nod their head all the time and say ‘yes’ to all of your ideas. So, let them express their opinions and share their ideas. You need to make them feel important and key personnel in your company. Unless their ideas are appreciated and welcomed, they will never feel they belong there.
In your company, you always need to maintain a list of people whom you don’t want to let go. You need to have clear plans for each of them and need to review your plan on every certain period. This kind of retention policy will help you knowing them in a better way and also you’ll always be ensured about the core guys that you are building around your Company. You need to recognize them through proper compensation and benefit packages so that they always feel that they are getting (more than) what they deserve.
Lastly, even you can’t keep one of your best employees due to salary mismatch or any other reason; try to give a happy ending to it. You never know whether s/he would like to join back to your company at a certain point and his/her expertise and experience might be invaluable for you. Exit interviews with departing employees always provide valuable information that can be used to retain remaining staff. Heed their results. Most likely you’ll never have a more significant source of data about the position of your organization. Many employers believe the ultimate secret of retaining employees is to offer more money; however, studies continually show that while money is important – and may be the first answer given in an exit interview – it’s rarely the number 1 reason for leaving a company.
Failing to retain a key employee is always COSTLY. If you are losing your crucial employees, you can safely bet that other people in that department are looking as well. So don’t make the delay; rather take the extra cushion right now.