Vital to retain top performers

Management coaching company Vistage chats to the CEO of a leading recruitment firm to discuss the 'imminent war for talent.'

Vital to retain top performers

Management coaching company Vistage chats to the CEO of a leading recruitment firm to discuss the ‘imminent war for talent.’

After more than 18 months of sitting tight, waiting for the pandemic to blow over, many companies will soon be spreading their wings again as they look to grow their businesses. This is the view of one chief executive who predicts there will be a recruitment boom before the year is out.

When Vistage chatted to Jeff Grout of JG Consulting, the first thing he said was: The jobs merry go round has started up again. This means we will witness a ‘war for talent,’ which was a phrase originally coined during the late 1990s.

In 2020, it was a relatively bleak landscape for businesses. But now there’s this pent up demand, which I believe is going to release itself over the next six months. This should be on every CEO’s radar. It’s not just about seeking new talent, but it’s also about retaining your best people.

And Jeff believes all bosses should analyse which members of staff are the least expendable and most important to ensure the smooth running of the company. He went on: CEOs should work out whose resignation would give you a sleepless night? In all organisations, there are usually two or three people who are critical to the success of that business. Therefore, you need to keep hold of them.

To try to ensure a company retains its ‘irreplaceable talent,’ star employees need to feel valued, while also receiving the recognition they deserve. As Jeff points out, the failure to tell a star performer that their contribution is fully appreciated may leave them feeling taken for granted. 

Over the coming few months, there could be revolving doors at many businesses, with a recent Vistage survey highlighting that around 70% of CEOs are expecting to increase the size of their workforce, as confidence grows post-lockdown.

It’s vital to hold regular conversations with key members of staff, in order to outline the company’s long term goals, says Jeff. Communicate to these people that they are a huge part of the organisation’s future: You must try to satisfy their aspirations and ambitions. Demonstrate what opportunities might exist for them in 12, 18 or 24 months’ time.

And if a CEO senses that a leading performer may be keen to leave the company, then it’s up to the boss to try and convince them to stay ‘ and to do it long before it’s too late. Jeff stressed: Perhaps you need to act now and conduct a retention interview with this person to prevent an exit interview in two or three months’ time?

But beware, says Jeff: The mistake many companies make is that they believe they’re in a marketplace where there are plenty of candidates and they can pick and choose their man or woman. But they can’t. The key message is that the very best people have the most choice.

Ask yourself why candidates would want to work for you. You need to make both your company and the role you’re recruiting for, compelling and attractive. It’s called employer branding. Your employer brand is about attracting and retaining employees.

To develop an attractive employer brand, it’s not just about salary, bonuses or rates of pay. This can also include the opportunity for flexible working, development opportunities, social events, and long-term career development.

Nowadays, ambitious talent seeks to progress quickly up the ladder, as Jeff explains: They are more impatient than ever before, looking to be fast-tracked, with many complaining about big companies acting like a slow moving escalator. Keeping a millennial for more than two years is more of a challenge than it was for those of previous generations.

Be certain of the right qualities. Companies fail to identify the most important elements of the job which is up for grabs, says Jeff. They’re focused on skills, qualifications and experience, yet the difference between good performance and great performance has everything to do with attitude and behaviour. This is what makes someone an asset to their business. What are the key characteristics that will help people perform well within your organisation? These are things every boss needs to identify.

Never burn your bridges, is another piece of advice for ambitious business leaders. Jeff goes on: I always part company with employees in a professional manner, which means I can try to re-recruit them back into the organisation at some point in the future.

When I was managing director of my business, I would establish which employees we were sad to lose. If they departed, I would update them with company news once or twice a year, and wish them all the best in their careers. I would let them know that there was always a job with us if they wanted it.

This policy worked well for Jeff: They’d come back from a competitor and actually tell other employees that they’re much better off where they are, rather than with the said competitor. All of which illustrates that finding and hiring top talent is a two-way process and it’s important for bosses to understand that in the most successful operations, the balance of power is 50-50. 

This article comes courtesy of Vistage who offer a unique combination of resources for accelerating business performance. This includes one-to-one executive coaching and mentoring sessions; interactive workshops; a rich online library of content; best practices and webinars; plus words of wisdom from expert speakers. Vistage offer access to a global membership network of more than 22,000 business leaders.

Become a Vistage member today. For more information about Vistage, visit: 


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