3 ways to retain top talent

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Mark Jeffries, Keynote speaker at the Premier Business Leadership Series conference.Considering the large investment every organization makes in people, the impact of hiring and retaining talent can’t be overstated. With the pace of change facing most marketing organizations, what I see specifically is the need to find and retain people that are innovative, agile and anything but complacent. A tall order? Perhaps – but not impossible.

Teams in any organization are made up of individuals – they have talents and skills that offer great potential to leaders that can translate that potential into great execution. And those talents and skills come packaged with feelings, hopes, aspirations and a whole rainbow of other emotions. So once you have talented people, it’s very important to keep your team motivated and inspired.

Based on that, it’s no coincidence that Mark Jeffries decided to kick off the Premier Business Leadership Series with the idea that there are 3 keys to retain top talent. He called them the “3 R’s of talent retention:”

Recognize
Mark says there is plenty of research that shows that people value recognition almost as much as their paycheck. The paycheck pays the bills and funds the family vacations, but the recognition is what motivates and inspires. So how do you recognize? He offered 4 examples of recognition and assigned point value to each:

  • The Team Thank–you.  Point value = 0. When you do this, it’s like spreading spray cheese across a platter of crackers (those are my words). Mark says that is like saying “I don’t know who any of you are, but I’m legally required to say this to you.”
  • The personal email. Point value = 1. It’s very nice to get a message like that, but it’s not enough. It lasts about as long as it takes to open the message and read it. Then it evaporates just as quickly.
  • The in-person thank you. Point value = 2. This is a little better than the email because it requires walking down the hall and looking your valuable employee in the eyes (hopefully you do that). It’s good but not enough. It evaporates as quickly as that email.
  • The public recognition. Point value = 4. This would be in person, possibly in a team meeting. This is when it gets good because you get two points for motivating the employee, and two additional points for inspiring the rest of the team.

Under this idea of recognition, Mark made it a point to remind the audience:

People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses.

Recall
Mark’s message here is more simple and straightforward - people love it when you remember what they’ve said. And they love it really more if you can repeat it back to them. What makes this potentially hard is that you have to actually listen to make this possible.

Reward
Rewarding is not always the same as remunerating. Mark believes that this reward takes the form of  remembering what people said to you and then repeating it back to them later. In other words, find out what's on their minds (personal or professional), and then make the effort to remember those concerns (or interests) and then ask them about it later. Do it meaningfully and you demonstrate that a connection has been made. Every person wants to be connected to something meaningful, and in an enterprise environment a meaningful employee connection is knowing how what they are doing matters to the bigger picture. The leader is the one that is uniquely positioned to make that connection – and reinforce it – meaningfully.

And what’s interesting for marketers is that this is basically the same concept behind customer retention – acknowledge the customer, make the effort to understand them and show them that you value their relationship and that’s when the magic starts.

Think of ways that you have an impact on employee retention and try applying Mark’s 3 R’s of talent retention. An important corollary is where you might have above-average turnover. So if you have any part of the organization where you’re seeing more people leaving or transferring out, it might be worth taking a closer look. Mark cautioned that if you're not able to retain your talent, perhaps your competitors will benefit.

If you're not able to attend one of these Premier Business Leadership Series conferences, the highlights can be found on our thought leadership blogs, called the Knowledge Exchange , along with other sources of thought leadership. There's one each for Customer Intelligence, Risk and Business Analytics.  As always, thank you for following!

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About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids (Go Quakers! Go Tarheels!), volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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