As an Executive Headhunter, I am talking to a varied segment of the market daily. My goal of course, is to engage the finest talent on behalf of my clients. Generally, I make a point of talking to the entire talent pool for a particular role. This could range from 5 to 20 people max. Of course, I never engage all 20 individuals, however, what is interesting talking to these Business Leaders is what keeps them motivated to stay in their current employment.
Therefore, see below 6 things that will play a large part in retaining your finest leadership talent:
- Get them dealt in and do it early. These individuals will play a pivotal role in your business being a success, so ensure they have their eyes on the same ‘prize’ as you. I often hear, I want to see how they do before I make this commitment. However, we all know we can build in ‘vesting periods’ etc to ensure people who don’t work out and don’t contribute positively, aren’t disproportionately rewarded. This motivates and brings together leadership teams, working towards the same goals. Without it, they are simply another employee.
- Pay Above Standard Salaries. By no means am I suggesting you pay 50% more than the market. I am suggesting these guys are key to the success of your business, so don’t send them the message that they are simply ‘market rate’. That suggests they are not truly valued and think of the financial impact if they weren’t in your business. Change their pay to 20-40% over market rate. This will build loyalty and fend off potential suitors. Moreover, don’t build structures that won’t allow you to pay your best people what they are worth. Many times I have heard ‘but we have an internal structure to adhere too’. That’s all well and good and brings some value, however, if your best staff are on the same wage as your ‘average’ staff because of a structure, it will lead to issues.
- Listen to your Leadership team and change. These guys are your eyes and ears. Remember that and if done properly, they want to achieve the same goals as you. Therefore, when they suggest a change or a refocus, listen and if appropriate, provide them with the resource to implement. By all means, analyse and deliberate, but if it’s right for the business, encourage the teams involved to get it done. They will appreciate their input is valued and, when appropriate, implemented.
- Listen to your Leadership team about the future. Many people who I engage are keen to find a new opportunity because their current challenge has stagnated. Indeed, I would say this accounts for perhaps 40% of the engaged candidates I talk too. This stagnation doesn’t happen immediately. It happens over time and generally again stems from your leadership team not being listened too. If your product line was appropriate to the market, well done, but it has to be continued to be developed and your leadership team will tell you where. Give them the creative licence to drive your solution forward. Again, within the right constraints.
- Don’t tolerate ‘average’. Another key reason for people wanting to leave is that ‘average’ is rewarded. I’m not suggesting you go down the ‘Foxton’s’ route and cull the bottom 20% of performers every quarter. Of course not. However, be aware of what your leadership team are ‘really’ bringing to the table and if they aren’t on the same page, let them go and get someone in who is a better, motivated fit.
- Encourage a positive ‘work-life’ balance. Candidates, particularly at the leadership end of a business tend to work the most hours of anyone within a business. There is no doubting this fact. However, studies tell us that properly rested individuals are more productive and bring more innovation and drive to the table. I understand it seems counter-intuitive but telling your leadership team to close the office door and go home to their family will build trust and I assure you, your business will continue to thrive.
You don’t want me taking your best people. I get that. But understand these 6 elements play a massive part in my success and you have it in your hands to make my job very difficult.
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