A key theme for Directors is “How do we retain our key staff and ensure that they will stay?” This question resonates even more strongly when you have a small team and a small budget. Ensuring that key staff will stay is a tricky one because of the factors surrounding why people will leave (or stay). It’s usually framed in terms of money, because this is a logical reason to want to leave. However logic is usually only part of the equation and a small part of the picture too.
People will cite money as a reason for leaving because they do not want to tell their boss the real reasons for departing, which are based around emotional issues of recognition, being over-looked, over-worked (some leaders think this is delegation), in short, not being valued.
Now, it must be said that some people’s circumstances change and their need is for more money, usually short-term. I remember changing jobs when interest rates went through the roof. (If I’d stayed in my job, I would have lost my house.) What I didn’t do, because I didn’t have a close enough relationship with them, is talk to my boss about my circumstances. They may have been in a position to help.
Here are some steps that you can take to reduce the risk of your key staff leaving you and increase the chances that they will stay. At the very least, you would want as much notice as possible should a star player want to go.
Identify your key positions
Please note that I have started with key positions, not staff!
Single-point-of-failure positions are a risk to your business, such as IT and Finance.
Identify your star performers in addition to your key positions. If there is a star performer in a key position, then the risk to the business is higher.
Identify what it would mean to the business if they left or were ill or away for a long period. Try and quantify this in sales terms, or costs because this will help you to clarify where to focus and prioritise.
Create an action plan to cover these positions should the worst happen. Knowing the financial impact on the business will help you prioritise and make informed decisions.
Start communicating with your star performers, recognising their current needs and have regular and frequent meetings to discuss their personal development. Best practice is monthly. Use this time to listen to their needs and create a strong relationship of mutual trust. (I have a template for this discussion, which I’ll happily share with you)
Invest in multi-skilling your teams so that you mitigate the risks, increase staff engagement and reduce your costs over the long term. Investing in this way will demonstrate to your star performers that you are serious about their future and that of the organisation.
Having done all of the above, your key staff may still leave, however you don’t have to be left feeling you could have done more to keep them.