“If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.” – Jim Collins
As you’ve probably figured out by now, I insist on the fact that WHO is more important than WHAT and WHY is more important than HOW. Leaving that aside, I am a great believer in A-player teams and in the importance of getting the right people on the bus. And by right I don’t mean pedigree, I mean people with the right motivation, passion and drive for the job. However, we refer to your company as a bus and as you know any bus has stops where people can hop on or… off. In the competitive world of today, how do you make sure your top talent doesn’t hop off?
Well, it’s just like like in any other close relationship, be it a love relationship or employment relationship. There will be competition. You just need to make sure you are the best existing alternative at all times. One principle I believe in is that you should never take any relationship for granted. In order for the relationship to exist you need to take care of the long-term commitments so that they are a win-win and you need to take care of the daily “seduction” gestures. And I am not talking about love only. As famous management thinkers put it, long before me, you need to re-recruit your people daily.
Of course “daily” is a metaphor, just a reminder that your team should not be taken for granted once recruited. There is no insurance that they will stay with your company or with your goals forever. I’ve had my challenges as a manager and company owner so far and here are some tips I’d like to share that could help when it comes to daily re-recruitment:
1. Make your A players’ career paths your concern – I know, it is not your problem. But it is your solution to keeping valuable employees. If you admire your A player and want to play for keeps, you should definitely make sure your overachieving colleague is developing his skills in your company. Otherwise, it won’t be long until he/she will feel demotivated and he/she will want a place where he/she can learn more. And can you blame them?
2. Invest in people’s professional development – I love Marissa Mayer and I love her quote where she says “work for someone who believes in you, because if they believe in you they will invest in you“. It’s a piece of advice that helped me in making many career choices. It is probably the same with your team. If you believe in them, you should invest in them – both in order to keep your company performant and in order to show them that you care. An employee will much preffer to work for a company where he feels valued and where he feels he can develop his skills rather than in a company that only offers financial perks. You need to keep your people marketable if you want them to stay with you and if you want your company to perform. Besides, I remember the famous joke that offers a real insight – CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people & then they leave us?” CEO: ‘What happens if we don’t, and they stay?“.
3. Put communication on a pedestal – Don’t miss weekly meetings, monthly reviews and quarter evaluations with your A players. Their main purpose is communication, reiteration of goals, solving communication issues as soon as they appear and not letting space for frustration to build. They are all crucial for the correct and effective communication with your team members and it ensures you receive the needed feedback from your team and you give the necessary explanations back when needed.
4. Re-motivate people – Zig Ziglar said this in a very funny and memorable way “Many people say that motivation doesn’t last – well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily“. It really is the same with motivation. The manager’s job is to find ways of motivating people that are the same with the ways people respond to motivation. It is a personalised process for sure and it needs to be reiterated. For example, if an employee likes challenges, you should provide him with challenges not only in the beginning, but on a regular basis. Otherwise, it’s like you are trying to seduce someone with flowers and gifts, only to never repeat this habit once you are sure of your conquest. On the other hand, if family is important to another employee, provide him with flexible work hours and get to know his family as well. He will appreciate it and this will be an important factor when considering to change boats. Or buses… If your A player is motivated by team and colleagues, make sure you have regular team building sessions and team hangouts. A company as employment choice is the sum of many factors. It is your job as the leader to know what motivates each employee and how you can help him up his career path and then your duty to make company’s plans and conditions meet with employees’ plans and dreams.
5. Build a team, not a group of A players – As all trainers tell us 1+1 > 2 if we refer to teams. And it is true. A players working together as a team produce much more value than the sum of the values of the work of each individual players. They will see this themselves. They will enjoy working together. And in the end, they will preffer working with this performant team rather than working for a new company. It is hard for a player who is performant with a team he respects and values to leave for another organizational culture. And this is good news both for you and your team. It’s a win-win.
All in all, my tips are very similar probably to the ones a marriage counselor would give you if you asked how to keep your spouse happy. Put yourself in your peer’s shoes and see how you can “seduce” him/her daily.
Any other tips you may have that worked for you and you’d like to share with us?