Top Employee Picture

Microsoft and other organizations have had a practice in place to eliminate the low performing people in their organization – the annual running of the pink slips. Management makes it clear that the lowest performing 5 – 10% of employees will be let go. This practice breeds mediocrity (as long as I’m not at the bottom, I keep my job).

However, how do retain and encourage your top talent? Denzil Crooke, Founding Partner of Incentus Global says, “Your top salespeople are not encouraged by money alone. Anywhere they work is going to pay them well. They need other incentives to drive their performance.” These top performers are not the 20% of people who are doing 80% of the work. These are the top 5% of your employees who your competitors would love to hire. What should you do to make them want to stay?

Challenge: Insure your top talent has top projects. These rockstars are the people who would climb a mountain just to see if they can. They want the tough accounts and the difficult to accomplish tasks. They fell asleep in algebra; reward them with calculus.

Reward: There is nothing wrong with financial incentives; they just can’t be the only thing offered. When top performers succeed, they should receive cash, stock options and raises. They need something they can take (or drive) to the bank.

Recognize: PDRs (i.e. – Public Displays of Recognition) make people feel good. It shows that they (or their team) worked hard, put in more hours and reached their goal. Will other people get jealous? YES! The goal is to help kickstart their drive for recognition.

Promote: I remember the first time I was promoted from Specialty Sales Executive to Senior Sales Executive. It was my first promotion. From that moment on, I worked harder. I lead more teams. I took more responsibility. As Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets, “It made me want to be a better man.”

Opportunity: I was doing well in engineering when I approached my boss about moving into sales. That lateral move was one of the best of my professional career. I learned skills I had never developed in engineering. That opportunity kept me with the company…for 7 more years.

All employees require coaching, mentoring and a path to success. The challenge for the great managers with great employees is to develop different paths for everyone. There is not a “one size fits all” for talent management – especially for your best employees. Create special incentives for them. Your organization, your clients and your employees will appreciate it.

Scientifically Speaking, of course