“Attract, develop, retain good performers” is at the heart of almost every organization’s needs and every manager’s job. Yet, too often we ignore these activities until top performers start leaving or we cannot find enough people to grow our organization.

What are some of the main reasons people leave? Most are unchanged over the past decade: problems with one’s supervisor, lack of opportunity, limited or non-existent career development, poor management practices. Many people feel over-burdened and under-appreciated, as cutbacks in recent years have often meant long work hours.


  • Communicate.
    Tell everyone what the organization’s goals are at every opportunity. Provide information on current issues and events – positive and negative! Encourage communications among all levels. Survey after survey shows employees do not understand their organization’s goals and do not trust their managers to keep them informed.
  • Emphasize flexibility.
    Offering flexibility in work hours or location is a valued benefit. Some options include: work-at-home days, flexible work hours, compressed workweeks, telecommuting. What could work in your organization depends on your work, your client/customer demands, and your ability to manage performance effectively.
  • Recognize and reward achievements.
    Catch people doing something right and provide immediate positive feedback. Pass on the positive client comments to all whose work resulted in the praise. Develop ways to celebrate organizational achievements. Tie rewards to achievement of specific goals and provide them at the time – not months later.
  • Treat people as individuals.
    Too often organizations fear legal risks so much that they forget to treat each employee as an individual. Recognizing an employee’s specific issues and needs and providing the assistance you can in a personalized manner helps ensure their retention.
  • Publicize career development options.
    Even small organizations can offer development activities. Yours may include in-house training, brown-bag lunches, video or web-based training, assignments to task forces or committees, cross-functional assignments, training or education assistance programs, or many others.
  • Train all managers.
    Managers need to know how to manage effectively and must apply their knowledge. Most critical management training topics include: effective performance management, communications skills, prevention of harassment and discrimination, career coaching skills. Management development can include seminars, in-house training programs, brown-bag lunch series, books and online programs.
  • Hold managers accountable.
    Good performers know when they are being over-burdened due to other employees lack of performance and resent it — and they eventually quit. Good performers want to develop their skills and expect their managers to offer assistance in this process. Managers who do not develop their staff or who hoard good performers reduce the total organization’s success. Make managers accountable through their pay and promotions.
  • Ask your employees why they stay.
    This can be done with surveys or in small group sessions. Once you know why people stay, you can use the information to improve your hiring, train your management, improve your management practices, or re-recruit your best performers.
  • Audit your human resources management practices.
    Look at your entire set of policies and the actual practices. Is there a gap between your strategy or culture and your HR practices? Do your practices contradict your stated values and needs? These are common problems. Programs which were effective yesterday may no longer be. An audit will help you assess where you are and what needs are not being met.

While management fads come and go, basics of good employee management do not change significantly. The ‘golden rule’ has not been significantly improved upon: Treat others as you want to be treated. If you want financial success, improve your ability to attract, develop, and retain good performers with these simple concepts. The time you spend to implement and maintain these practices is less than the time you will have to spend to correct the problems created when these are absent.

Need help? Contact us.