A manager told me once that her biggest fear was losing her good talent to other parts of the organization. She felt that she worked hard to hire the best person possible, trained and developed them to contribute to the department, and then too often, they would leave for another assignment and the cycle would start over. You can imagine her surprise when I told her that was the goal of a great manager. I went on to say that she should intentionally try to lose her best employees.
This manager’s view is not uncommon. In fact, it is the generally accepted rule that managers should do everything they can to hold on to their exceptional employees. It’s still a mistake, but it happens all of the time.
Managing High Performers
Of all the roles a manager plays, one of the most important is that of a career coach for team members. Ask your employee what their career aspirations are and let them know how you intend to help them achieve those goals. Help get them ready for their next role or level. Whether that is inside the organization or in another company. Work with them to develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in that next role.
From an organizational perspective, you have a responsibility as well. If you want these high performers to stay inside your company, you need to work to identify the best fit for those newly developed skills and abilities. Your job is to make sure the great work being done by your people is seen by the right people. This internal marketing not only shows off the abilities of your people, but also your willingness to share great talent with other parts of the company.
Benefits of Losing Good People
Once you start to build a reputation as a manager that helps their talent move on to bigger and better things, other high performers will be attracted to your team. This starts to produce a steady stream of contributors who cannot wait to work for and with you. People notice what happens to employees, both good and bad. If others see that your team is a launch pad for great assignments, the effort you have to expend recruiting will be greatly reduced.
As this pool of talent continues to expand, you’ll not only have more high performers to choose from, but as you add them to your team, you are increasing the overall productivity of the team. Groups that at one time had one or two “go to” people all of sudden have eight or ten people who are all capable of running with an important project or assignment.
While losing your best performer may look like a bad thing on the surface, in reality it is a fantastic long term approach to building a team that is recognized across the organization as one that consistently produces desired results. In addition, you will be able to spend more time working with the team members who need your attention and development. It’s a win for everyone.