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Selective Retention: The Key to Keeping the People You Want

Finding good people is a challenge many have voiced in 2010. In the last issue of BONEZONE, Ben Craigs disposed on those aspects unique to hiring “Generation Me.” (See “Generation [Hire] Me,” BONEZONE Fall 2010.) In this article, we focus upon keeping the quality people you already have as economic uncertainty settles in, and many professionals are examining their opportunities. –Editor

Nobody likes losing! Whether you missed a sale or got passed over for a promotion, it didn’t feel good. Nothing upsets progress like losing a key contributor within your own team. Yet it never fails that when you least expect it, it happens. One of your team walks into your office and closes the door. This is, of course, the universal sign of the impending doom that is “The Resignation.” Each resigner painstakingly crafts his story with a dash of empathy and intrigue that usually sounds like, “I wasn’t even looking,” or “It was completely unexpected.” It is rarely good news, especially if this soon-to-be competitor is one of your essential players.

What has happened to loyalty in the workplace? Times have changed, and with each new year, start up, merger and acquisition, people have become jaded—and opportunistic at the same time. The days of the 40-year career at the same company with the pension and the gold watch have gone. Competition has created a Candidate Driven Market—which is recruiter-speak for a difficult reality for many managers. It means that if your employees are unhappy, it is all too easy for them to find new employment. I could elaborate on the cost analysis of losing a team member, but you likely already know this. You’ve lived through it and are well-educated on the profound impact that losing one of your key contributors has on your business and stress level.

When you lose a “clutch player,” it hurts! Not only is it demoralizing to you, but it can have a ripple effect. When a company loses one of the best people, others may be spurred to look elsewhere for their future rather than in their current company. This can cause happy people to wonder what they could do on the open market. What does a manager do to avoid this?

In our recruiting business, we have found that the most difficult person to recruit is one who is completely sold out to his company’s vision and in whom management has invested much. You must be deliberate about mentoring and monitoring your people. Make certain that there is no ambiguity regarding their roles and impact on the organization, as well as future career paths. They also need to know where the company is headed, vision for the future and how they fit into the big picture.

It is extremely difficult to recruit one who has a relationship to a mentor within her company—someone who cares about her development and will continually communicate about her current and future roles. Far too often, people feel unappreciated and as though they are not an important part of the whole organization. If this is so, you can expect them to welcome a call from the friendly recruiter who will inevitably come calling.


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