Take a minute to think about your roster of employees. Now mentally identify your top dogs. This shouldn’t take you long. If you are like me, you know exactly who those people are and you cringe at the thought of the day they may leave your company for a better opportunity.
Here’s the good news: they may never leave. Yes, even those people who receive a steady stream of LinkedIn messages from recruiters offering better salary and vacation packages than you do. It is possible to retain your rockstars if you abide by three simple rules.
Rule #1: Communicate
High-performing employees want to know what is going on in a company; few things annoy them more than being left in the dark. Tune into this need for transparency and keep the lines of communication open (with your entire team, not just the top sellers).
Small business owners can do this in a variety of ways. I recommend scheduling stand-up meetings at the end of every day. Use these meetings to quickly recap how things went that day (standout sales, disappointing numbers), recognize team members publicly for jobs well done and discuss where the company is trying to go and how staffers can help accomplish specific goals.
This meeting isn’t meant to be a monologue where staffers assume the roles of quiet audience members. Engage your team, ask them questions and encourage them to challenge you. Back-and-forth conversation will lead to higher levels of employee engagement and increased employee satisfaction for being in the know.
If you don’t have time for a daily in-person meeting, send out a synopsis email to your team at the end of every day. Schedule these communication efforts into your calendar so you don’t forget. Remember that every business owner has time to cultivate employee engagement. The time you invest will pay off in retention of your best employees and customers.
Rule #2: Recognize
Speed is integral in effective recognition. A pat on the back two months after a job well done doesn’t mean as much as recognizing an employee less than 24 hours after he or she did something exemplary.
Schedule time to recognize your employees. Put it on your calendar and try to do it daily. Recognition doesn’t have to be in the form of dollar bills or gift cards. It can be with hand written thank you notes, surprise gifts from the dollar store or shout-outs during company meetings.
Pay attention to how your employees like to be recognized. Some will want public displays of recognition while others will prefer private cards or emails. When interviewing a candidate, ask them how they’d like to receive recognition. The question alone will show the potential staffer your desire to keep them engaged at work.
Rule #3: Hold them accountable
It is very likely that your rockstar employees are the same people that, when in grade school, took on the brunt of group projects in science class. They were the ones that took the work home when no one else would and finished it on time, all the while seething inside at the ineptitude of their classmates.
School projects aren’t all that different from work projects. The difference: if one team member isn’t holding his or her weight, it is very likely for the top member of the team to bow out and find a better team (i.e. different employer). For this reason alone, it is vitally important for business owners to stay in-tune with projects and groups and hold employees accountable to tasks and deadlines. This will show your rockstars that you value their time and expect the same level of excellence across the team.
That said, rockstars can sometimes be found slacking, too. By whipping them back into shape, it will show how much you care about the success of your company and continue to build good will and engagement.
Yaniv Masjedi is the vice president of marketing at Nextiva (@Nextiva), a leading provider of cloud-based, unified communication services. In his role, Yaniv manages the firm’s marketing and branding efforts by working to create strategies that drive awareness, strengthen the Nextiva brand and share the story of the company’s unique customer-centric culture (dubbed “Amazing Service”). Keep up with Yaniv on Twitter @YanivMasjedi.
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