You’ve Hired Great Employees. Now How Do You Keep Them?

EmployeesIt’s not easy finding the right employees. Hiring is expensive. Then it takes a while before they’re fully productive. One source put it at 5 to 6 months. So you need employees to stick around well beyond then to see a return on your investment. That means creating a culture that makes your staff feel like they’re an important asset. Here are a few tips that you can use in your small business to keep your best employees.

  • Accentuate the positive – Some managers think their job is to catch an employee doing something wrong and then correct them. That sends the message that you don’t trust them. So instead, catch them doing something right and praise them for it. It reinforces good work habits and creates a positive work environment. Your staff will work toward doing the right thing rather than worry about being caught for making a mistake.
  • Conduct stay interviews – Some businesses conduct exit interviews when an employee leaves. They want to find out what went wrong. But why wait until then? That’s the idea with a “stay interview.” Schedule regular interviews with employees to learn why they stay. You might ask questions like: Why did you come to work here? Why do you stay? What would make you leave? What could we do to change your mind? Integrate what you learn into your retention efforts, especially for your best employees.
  • Tolerate mistakes (the first time) – People play it safe if they think they’ll be punished for making a mistake. The problem with that culture is it tends to stifle innovation. You want your staff to come up with new, better ways to serve your customers. That means you need to allow for some risk. The key is that they learn from their mistakes so they don’t make them again. Set parameters on what kind of risks they can take, and then monitor what they learn.
  • Play 1-on-1 – This is more than just a basketball strategy. Meet individually with your employees on a regular basis. It provides a great coaching opportunity. Find out what’s going well and what needs to be fixed. Then help them come up with a solution. This is particularly good for employees that might be shy about speaking up in a team meeting.
  • Manage low performers – Few things are more demotivating than working your hardest only to see a fellow co-worker who continues to slack off. There’s little incentive to keep morale high. In addition, you wind up spending more time with the poor performer than with your stars. Identify performance issues quickly so you can coach for improvement. But establish a timeline. If performance doesn’t improve by that time, be prepared to replace that employee.
  • Feed and water – Most people like to feel like they’re growing. So find ways for employees to learn new skills. It might be additional training or assignment to a new project. Consider asking them for help on a workplace problem. Have them come up with two or three ideas that might help solve it. By doing so, you’re accomplishing two things. First, you’re recognizing their value to the business and you’re giving them a chance to practice new skills. In addition, take time to read, Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers by Ericka Andersen, which will provide further insight to developing an exemplary team.

Maximize the investment in your employees by providing a culture that keeps them engaged. Consider these tips to retain your best talent.


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