Ask these four questions to help ensure your high performers don’t leave for your competition.

Ever wonder how to keep those high performers on your team? If you haven’t, you really should. Here’s why.

Imagine your star performer walks into your office and says, “I want to let you know I’ve accepted a position with The Acme Company (your competitor) and I’ll be leaving in two weeks.” You’re in shock, feeling sick to your stomach. You ask them to reconsider, please. “Whatever it takes!” you offer but he or she politely refuses.

Here are four important questions to ask yourself BEFORE your best people decide to look – or get recruited – elsewhere.

1. “Who are they?”

The first and key question to ask yourself is, “Who are the people in my company that, if they left, would make me want to cry?” Who is that star performer – or rising star – that, if he or she resigned, you’d be up at night trying to figure out how to succeed without them.

Answering this question lets you know where to focus. Once you’ve identified your stars – those high potential employees – you need to determine how to keep them with your company.

2. “What would it cost to lose them?”

Secondly, ask yourself, “What would happen if I lost Star Performer X tomorrow? What would be the implications for my business?” For the sales and marketing team, for the production staff, or your leadership team? Consider the impact on team morale?

Clearly the implications would be tremendous. Any idea what it would cost your company in terms of time, lost sales and productivity to find an equal replacement? The average cost for replacing a middle management position is about 150% of their annual salary. (See the TalentXponential blog post on ‘The High Cost of Replacing a High Performer.‘)

Answering this question helps you put a value on what your high performer is worth to the organization, and why it’s important to invest in that person.

3. “Who is next in line?”

Next, ask yourself, “Do I have anyone ready to step into that role?” Who are you preparing for their next position within your company? Or would you need to hire outside talent to replace that person?

This question addresses several factors. It reveals how deep your talent ‘bench strength’ is – or how vulnerable you are to the loss of a star performer. It’s smart business to do succession planning* to ensure a smooth transition of roles and responsibilities for key roles in your company. This is particularly important for fast growing companies in today’s competitive talent landscape..

It’s smart business to do succession planning to ensure a smooth transition of roles and responsibilities for future leaders in your company. This is particularly important for fast growing companies in today’s competitive talent landscape

4. “How can I keep them?”

The last and best question is, “How can I keep my best people for myself?” Or “How do I make sure I have the best people in right place when I need them?”

Here’s a simple formula to help keep your talent for yourself and your company: Inform, Invigorate and Invest.

  • Inform – Let your high potentials know they are highly valued before they start looking or get recruited elsewhere. Tell them clearly you want to keep them with your company and discuss how to prepare them for future roles.
  • Invigorate –Telling your star performers they are important and valued is the first step; following through with specific development opportunities is next. Find out where they want to move within the organization and help prepare them. Ask your high performers to work on solving key business issues or creating a new distribution model. Provide exposure to the leadership team and offer cross training in other aspects of the business.
  • Invest– Set your high potential people up with a coach or mentor and offer training specific to their needs. Ensure the program is a good match for their development needs. Research shows that people value and benefit more from training when it effectively delivered and relevant to their development needs. While the local chamber may offer ‘Management 101’, you’re better off investing in a reputable leadership program.

Will it take effort to Inform, Invigorate and Invest in your top performers? Yes but, you’ll be glad you did. No one can afford to lose their best and brightest leaders, especially to the competition.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Who knew he was referring to keeping your best talent for yourself?

* Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company.