Good employees are hard to find. Great employees are even harder to come by. When one of them leaves, it hurts.And we’re not just talking about your feelings here. Employee turnover hurts productivity, morale, and your bottom line. Busy HR managers end up with more work dumped on their already full plates in addition to dealing with the cost and effort that goes into hiring and training someone new. All of this can be even more aggravating when you thought you’d hired that perfect fit.

The thing is, even the most dedicated employee will consider leaving under the right circumstances. If you want to hold onto your most creative and capable team members, it’s worth noting that they need a couple of key things.

1. Inspired Leadership

Go-getters like other go-getters. If you hire someone for their awesome skills, outgoing personality and can-do attitude, then place that person with a negative boss or in a stagnant department, the honeymoon won’t last very long. Even if they truly love the company product, goals and/or mission, your gold-star employees will soon feel disillusioned if they aren’t given the tools and the leadership necessary to succeed.

So what does inspired leadership look like? Let’s break it down to 10 key leadership attributes. Effective leaders:

  • Lead by example
  • Are open to new ideas
  • Empower staff to succeed
  • Make themselves accessible
  • Create an inspirational vision
  • Provide guidance and support
  • Communicate openly and often
  • Trust their teams and processes
  • Recognize and reward hard work
  • Value their employees as people

In this kind of environment, most employees will feel supported, successful and appreciative. In addition to giving you their best and sticking around for the long haul, they may even refer other fantastic people to your team.

If there’s a lack of organizational or team leadership, the very same people in the very same jobs will have a very different experience. Instead of being excited about working for you and inspiring talented friends and colleagues to join them, they’ll be asking their friends about their workplace cultures and leadership styles. And potentially jumping ship.

Don’t let lackluster leadership be the reason your hard-earned hires leave. Commit to great leadership and your employees will be more committed to you.

2. Career Development

Not every employee is interested in taking on more responsibility, moving up the food chain, or even learning new skills. But you can bet your best and brightest are. Often, these are the same people you worked really hard to get and invested a significant amount of time and resources in. So how do you make sure your career-driven employees view your company as a viable, long-term option rather than a short-term stepping stone or resume booster?

If you have clear and visible career paths in place, you’re definitely on the right track. Make sure your new hires know about these opportunities from the get-go. As time goes on, discuss where and how your team members fit into the bigger picture and ways they can work toward selected goals. Even better if you talk about these things outside the context of review time. The more you get people thinking about the possibilities available to them within your organization, the less likely they will be to start looking for opportunities elsewhere.

If you’re running a smaller company, or one with very low turnover, new positions and promotions might not be readily available. That’s okay. You can still give your employees some exciting personal and professional development options through one or more of the following:

  • Create a career mentorship program
  • Offer cross-training across departments
  • Support employee education and skill building
  • Provide opportunities to work on new projects
  • Solicit input and participation on company initiatives
  • Encourage informational interviews and job shadowing
  • Allow staff to attend professional conferences and events
  • Consider tuition reimbursement for career-related classes and degrees

Bottom line: A dead end job isn't going to entice career-motivated individuals to come on board or stick around. And that, my friends, will eventually end up affecting that other bottom line. Yours.


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