How Bosses Can Retain Talent

While many people make resolutions for the new year, one group that doesn't do this enough is bosses.

With the job market picking up, bosses may want to start making some resolutions to retain talented workers. "Employees make career-related resolutions much more often than bosses. However, the top resolution that workers make each year is to find a new job," said Dr. David Miles.

Bosses should focus on:
- Developing their employees' leadership skills
- Inviting employees' input
- Demonstrating continued interest in their careers
- Recognizing employees' contributions

"If more managers resolved to do these things, fewer workers would be determining to find new jobs each year," added Miles.

Retaining talented employees has become a higher priority in an improving job market. 87% of employers are worried about losing key employees, with 58% moderately concerned and 29% very concerned, according to a survey by OI Partners.

To help retain talent, 4 out of 10 companies are providing coaching to executives and managers to invest in their careers and ensure they are equipped to develop critical skills in their subordinates, according to the survey.


The following are some of the top resolutions bosses can make to help retain talent.

  • Coach workers in how to become more influential and persuasive. Explain the implications of their actions and decisions on internal politics and help them become savvier. Provide training and guidance in how to craft their messages to meet the needs of others. "Managers are too often frustrated by employees' inability to work effectively through others. Teach them how to win over people in appropriate ways," said Miles.
  • Develop employees' leadership skills. Use challenging "stretch assignments" that motivate workers, require them to learn new skills and build coalitions. "Look for opportunities where members of your team can step into leadership roles. That may mean you have to be in the background more and become comfortable with sharing the spotlight," said Miles.
  • Improve your feedback and increase their accountability. Most managers are inconsistent in communicating expectations and holding people accountable "Be clear about your expectations and give timely feedback to your team when they do a good job or miss the mark," according to Miles.
  • Tap into employees' wealth of knowledge and experience. Encourage employees at all levels to suggest, create and communicate new ideas based on the direct experience of those on the line. Personally ask people for their input to get the best recommendations.
  • Counsel survivors of layoffs and demonstrate continued interest in their careers. Survivors of layoffs are frequently stressed by the extra work and worried about whether they, too, might lose their jobs. "Reassure remaining employees that they are appreciated for the additional work they're doing. Increase the frequency of discussions about their careers and one-on-one meetings with their managers," said Miles.
  • Recognize and reward contributions. Managers should be certain they recognize employee contributions, both big and small. "A compliment from the boss can be as effective as a monetary reward. Many employees feel that their managers do not spend enough time thanking them for a job well done but are too quick to criticize them for making mistakes," said Miles.

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