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Three Best Practices to Obtain and Retain Top Talent

Magnet with Iron Filings

The top talent your organization needs is bullish on the future. Here are three best practices we found to obtain and retain your best employees.

Today’s post is by Mark Miller, author of Talent Magnet (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Top talent is bullish on the future. Many would say they’ve already been there in their imagination and are excited about the prospects.

In late 2017, my team and I, with outside assistance, finished a research project where we sought the factors that attract what I like to call top talent. That private research gained insight from more than 7,000 people, collected through various methods across the U.S.

One of our findings is the fact top talent has more of a future bias than their fellow employees. So much so, a brighter future is one of the attributes they consider when evaluating an organization or job opportunity: “Will this place and role help me prepare for my future?”

What is the role of leadership then?

Our research identified three best practices to help top talent realize their preferred future while serving the organization along the way.

Champion Growth

If your goal is to help top talent grow into a brighter future, you can do countless things over the months and years to assist these most talented people. But, there may be nothing more critical than your continuing efforts to champion growth.

Champion is not a term you hear often as a verb; however, in this context, it is the perfect word. To champion growth means you will fight for, defend, promote, affirm and assist others as they attempt to grow. Not only that, you’ll do all of this with tremendous energy, enthusiasm, passion and fervor.

Everyone needs a champion when it comes to growth.

As a leader in this role, you may serve as a resource or assist in securing resources. You can also nurture and facilitate growth by expecting every person to have a written development plan, and don’t miss the power of encouragement along the way.

One of the most satisfying parts of your job as a leader should be helping others reach their full potential, often far beyond what they believed was even possible. Wise leaders understand to become a talent magnet they must champion growth.

Provide Challenge

Think about the leaders who have had the greatest impact on you, both personally and professionally. How did they add value to your life?

Providing challenge is an indispensable part of the growth process. Discomfort is a byproduct of growth, and we know that growth is the “FastPass” to a brighter future. We learn the most and, sometimes make the biggest contribution, when we are out of our comfort zone. None of us can reach our full potential without someone willing to call out the best in us. Challenge is required for humans to thrive.

What does this look like for you as a leader? How do we help our people in this arena?

Begin by helping people raise their own sights. Virtually all of us have a story of someone who saw more in us than we saw in ourselves. Or, many of us can remember the day we were challenged to think differently, work harder, or change our behavior. Sometimes, all that was required was a leader to shine a light on something for us. These are the conversations top talent wants and needs.

To consistently provide challenge while maintaining a good working relationship will require your best effort. From time to time, you will find yourself in a situation in which a hard conversation is needed. Candor will be essential to your success. If you sugarcoat the truth, or dodge the issues preventing your top talent from soaring, you will both regret it.

If you honestly hope to attract top talent, don’t neglect to provide challenge for the people currently on your team.

Promote Opportunity

Finally, leaders promote opportunity. Who controls opportunity? Generally speaking, you and I do not. What we do control is our readiness – others control our opportunities.

Top talent understands this.

When top talent considers a job, they are often thinking far down the road – sometimes, even thinking about future employers! This is why we say they are looking for a place in the present that can help them ensure a brighter future.

No one knows what the future holds, but as a leader, you probably have a view of the organization your top talent does not. You can see future job openings, both within your team and across the organization. You can see cross-functional team assignments and project teams which could also serve as doorways to future roles. You know opportunity can be provided in current roles and beyond.

Think about all you can do to serve top talent in this area. Do you know people they need to know? Can you give access to experiences they need to have? Have you shared your hard-won lessons about which paths to follow and which ones to ignore? Have you fully considered the long-term potential contribution of your top talent? What are the implications for them? How would their future moves impact your team and the organization? Are you planning to give top talent opportunities to grow?

You can serve as an “opportunity broker” for your people. This is in stark contrast to the leaders who attempt to hoard and sequester talent from the organization. In healthy organizations, it is not uncommon for talent to move freely across the enterprise.

Hold top talent loosely; serve as scouts for their future. When you promote opportunity, they will flourish and retention should improve. They may ultimately leave, but if they do, they will leave you and your team stronger as a result of their contributions.

Now think back to these best practices – champion growth, provide challenge, and promote opportunity: How are you incorporating these into your organization to retain and obtain top talent?

Talent MagnetMark Miller is the best-selling author of seven books, an in-demand speaker, and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. In his latest book, Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People (CLICK HERE to get your copy), Mark reveals the three critical aspects of a true talent magnet, and explores the daily implications for leaders.

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Photo: Longing for Mecca by Hans Splinter

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