September 13, 2011

Want to Retain Great People? Here’s the Secret

One of the most important jobs of a leader is to recruit and keep great people.  After all, the strength, motivation and ability of the people on your team will determine your success or failure.

People ask me all the time “Chris, how do I retain great people?”

My answer is simple — “Think of the people who work on your team as your customers.”

My most important product is not our jobs service.  My most important product is called “working at our company.”  And the people who work at Navigos Search and VietnamWorks are the consumers of this product.

I imagine that every morning each of our people wakes up and makes a decision: “Do I want to buy Chris’ product again today?”  As long as the answer is “yes,” then they stay at the company.  When the answer is “no,” they decide to move on.

People answering “yes” day after day is called “retention.”

It really is as simple as that.

“Ok smart guy,” you’re thinking.  “How do you get people to buy your product day after day for years at at time?”

Another simple answer — I focus on increasing the value of my product so that it’s higher than the value of my competitors’ products.

I find that everything falls into place when I think about working at our company as a product and our people as customers of that product.

Figure out what your best customers want, then give it to them.

I’ve found that the best customers generally want the same things — training, a fun and pleasant working environment, good salary and benefits, challenge, opportunity for advancement and, perhaps most importantly, meaningful work and recognition.

This isn’t rocket science.  No expensive consultants or “talent retention strategy matrices” needed.  It’s just plain common sense.  But you have to take ACTION for it to work.

What are you doing to provide training for people?  Are you putting your time and money where your mouth is?  How about your  working environment?  Is it comfortable, friendly and fun?  Do you promote from within?  Do you talk about your mission and purpose constantly so people understand how their work adds value in the world?  Do you praise often for a job well done?  Do you stretch and challenge your people so they don’t get bored?  Do you reward people financially if they rise above and contribute massive value?

Do these things well, day after day, and your people always will choose your ‘product’ over your competitors’.

[You also might enjoy my interview on Retaining Great People.]