Guest Blog: 4 Ways To Retain Top Talent

Guest contributor Don Zinn of Exigent Search Partners on stopping the revolving door.



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Don Zinn, managing partner of Exigent Search Inc.

As a search professional, I am never surprised by how much effort goes into the pursuit and discovery of talented professionals hired into the organizations I support.  Recruiting is hard work, and being careful with talent acquisition is critical. You can’t spend too much effort and thought as you hire.

That said, I am frequently surprised by how little care and feeding goes on after the hire.  Big mistake! It makes sense that if you have made a good hire, you want to establish an environment that will keep that great employee in your organization. 

If you want to retain your top talent rather than see a revolving door, it is important to make a concerted effort and not take anything—or anyone—for granted. If you are hiring an “A” player, you want to make sure you stay cognizant of having landed top talent and structure your management accordingly. You are going to want to treat that person differently than the majority of your team (unless you have only top talent, which is wishful but unlikely).

Here are four key strategies for retaining your best employees:

1. If you are hiring an “A” player, make sure the job is an “A”-level job:

People work to earn a living and take care of their families, but great employees come to work every day hoping to be challenged, to learn, to grow, to make a contribution and a difference. Your challenge as the employer is to make sure you are creating an environment that will allow for that to happen. Not every day—sorry, work is work and being stuck with mundane and repetitive tasks on occasion is inevitable—but in the long term, the job needs to be that “A” level if you are going to keep terrific talent happy and in place year after year.

2. Once an “A” job not always an “A” job:  

As time goes by, the challenge of a job decreases as mastery increases. You need to make sure you are building new challenges into every job, every year, and not just waiting to give an employee his or her next promotion for a step up in responsibilities. You hired a winner, now give them room to run and make sure you evaluate the job and activities every quarter. 

3. Create a dialog with the employee:

Top talent always have ideas. This is top talent at every level, not just the highest levels. Encourage your top talent by inviting them to have a voice in how to improve your business. Involve them in strategy and in helping to define and redefine their role.

4. Understand the competitive job market for terrific talent and compensate accordingly

As search consultants, we often experience top candidates getting a counter offer from their current employer when they go in to resign to move on to a new role.  Relying on a counter offer at the breach is not good business. If the employee is worth more on the market than you are paying, you are exposed. The solution is simple: your best employees deserve top compensation and just as you need to redefine the role on an ongoing basis, so too do you need to address the value the person creates in your company and compensate accordingly. Don’t wait to defend your turf after the fact—if your talent is worth more than you are paying them, someone is going to pay them their market value, so get ahead of the curve and make sure that “person” is you.

As employers, you want to make sure you recognize the best of your best and create a program to make sure you are keeping these employees happy.  The golden rule applies—do unto them as you would want done unto you. Follow that rule and you will retain your top talent and allow your organization to grow at maximum speed.


Don Zinn is a managing partner of Exigent Search Partners Inc., which provides employee search services for early- to mid-stage technology and service companies. 

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Westchester Magazine editorial staff.

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