Keep Your Top Performers

“I don’t feel appreciated.” The #1 reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. As a senior organizational head or team leader let’s explore what can you do today to retain your star talent.

Why Star Performers Leave

“Star performers don’t leave a company, they leave a boss.” We have all heard this time and time again and it couldn’t be truer. Yet, usually when you think of that you’re thinking of your boss, that senior executive or the board of directors, but wait, someone is thinking about you as that boss. You are that boss they are leaving. Me? Yes, you.

There are three reasons your top talent will leave.

  1. They don’t feel connected: “I am not similar to the people here. They don’t have the same goals as me. The leadership team doesn’t include me in decisions and acknowledge me as a peer.”
  2. They don’t feel challenged: “I can do the work in my sleep. The job doesn’t push my limits to allow me to grow. Sure I can do the job, but why.”
  3. They don’t feel developed: “I am not learning. This role isn’t evolving, I want more of a challenge.”

The most important reason stars leave is ‘they don’t feel respected.’ Once you as a senior leader have done something that doesn’t show respect for your top performers it’s just a matter of time before they leave. Once this occurs unless you take immediate action, they are ‘leaving the boss.’

They Work For Me

This myth that employees work for a manager, leader or executive is just that, a myth. Employees work with their manager, colleagues and executive leadership. As an executive, your employees choose to work with you, not for you. They can and often do leave at any time they wish. Think carefully the next time you’re speaking to your top performer, about who actually is in control of the situation.

Power of Authority Is Overrated

Power of authority is a formal position of power. Power of influence is an indirect position also of power. Employees choose to allow their executive leadership to influence them. They can at any time decide they are no longer going to work past 5:01pm on that critical activity. They can at any time leave the company and likely increase their role and responsibility.

Understanding your true power of authority and why not to use it, establishes the foundation of building a relationship with your senior leadership team and your team that supports you daily.

You’re in control. You lead an organization or entire company and you are successful. What if all of your top performers didn’t show up to work Monday? You call them, then text and still nothing. You check your email and you have received their resignation and notification of their two week notice. When you do finally get through to them, you’re informed they will be taking four weeks of PTO they have not used.

You’re still the boss and still have power of authority. How much authority is that now? Authority is overrated and influence for success is underrated. Have you listened to what your top performers are saying and have you done everything in your authority to secure their retention?

Keep The Stars

Your professional success as an executive is directly tied to your star performers. If you have been in this business as long as I have, you’ve experience amazing high performing teams and dreadful team performance. The consistent difference that locks in success are the key leaders in those teams.

Below are six ways to lock in your star performers and inspire them:

  1. Professional Development: Listen to their development goals. Are you as an executive providing the types of opportunities they are interested in? If you are great. If not, you’re at risk of losing them.
  2. Education: Provide areas for stars to increase their knowledge and expand their current understanding. This could be conferences, new training, educational programs, and executive mentoring or just additional time with leaders they respect.
  3. Grow The Culture: Your actions of promotion and recognition are notices by other leaders. It makes a statement either good or bad. Don’t think what you do is in a silo, people talk. Use that knowledge of communication and sharing to ensure they are talking about the ‘right things.’
  4. Fit Them In The Vision: Make sure that each top performer understands how they fit into the larger picture and make it personal for them. Take the time now to share your vision, and get their buy-in.
  5. Crafting the Right Challenges: Build new opportunities that will keep them thinking and pushing them to grow.
  6. Look For Job Opportunities: As new roles open up, consider moving them into those roles. You know they perform well.   They deliver when critical. What better than to have your best performers surrounding you to ensure professional and organizational success.

If you recognize them as star performers, chances are so will that executive looking for that great new star for their team. Great leaders are needed and in demand all the time. You’re competing in the global world of talent management, with leaders like yourself that want your top talent. Take the time now to protect your best talent.

Top talent retention is expensive. Companies must either meet the expectations of top resources or be in the business to replenish them. There is a reason, they are the top performers.

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Peter is a technology executive with 19 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.