Keep Your Team Intact: How to Retain High Potential Employees / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Here are some ways you can identify and tap into the high-potential employees your business already has to keep it right where you need...

"A company is only as good as the people it keeps." Lately, there's been a lot of talk about talent shortages and how a small to medium-sized business (SMB) can compete with larger companies to attract and hire the best employees. But, there's talent already sitting dormant on your team. Here are some ways you can identify and tap into that talent to keep it right where you need it. Focus on:

Related: The 10 Golden Rules for Hiring All-Star Employees

Finding a Good Fit

When I see a quarterback arc the football right to his teammate or see a kicker hit his mark, I think how each player is different and perfectly suited for his position. At work, it's much the same. Each employee should fit his or her position.

While you may have some players who can catch a football as well as tackle -- crossing over can be a great thing, especially in an SMB where employees wear several different helmets, I mean, hats -- most players are positioned where they are for a reason. They have shown a natural proficiency or worked hard to learn the skills to do that job well.

Shining Stars

As a manager, you should be able to identify those who are performing not only up to par but going beyond. These employees are willing to learn something new and are constantly improving. It's important to make note of and track this in employee records for future reference. While these employees are finding ways to improve on their own, you can also give them a chance to move or grow. If you don't, they might look to another team.

Related: Get help with talent management tasks by outsourcing.

Retaining the Best

Retaining employees with insatiable learning appetites is a huge priority, probably even more important than hiring new talent. After all, it saves you more time and money to keep a hard-working employee on the books than to go searching for someone who hopefully works out. As a manager in an SMB, you may feel you don't have a ton of money to nurse these employees into all-stars, but the following several ideas require little to no extra budget:

  1. Job shadowing which allows employees to follow an employee in a different department or higher position. Employees can learn first-hand how a leadership position or position in another wing may help them move or grow within the company.
  2. Coaching which pairs a senior employee up with a less-experienced employee in an audit-like situation. The "coach" may offer up advice or guide the "coachee" to improve abilities.
  3. Mentoring which is similar to coaching but allows the professional relationship to go just a bit further. It is an ongoing process that includes continual learning, constant dialogue, and may even include challenges over a longer time period.

Promoting From Within

Most important is letting a high-potential employee move up when your company has an open position. Be sure to let hiring managers know which current employees could succeed in open positions. Looking outside the company for a position that could be filled with a capable, inside employee is akin to letting a perfectly thrown football slip through your fingers. Not only will the employee feel unappreciated and undervalued, but they may be discouraged and feel their hard work has gone unnoticed.

RelatedAppreciation and Trust: Winning a Losing Battle for Employee Engagement

Stretching It Out

If you don't have new job openings, why not give high-performing employees a title upgrade or some stretch assignments? Make sure to set boundary criteria to help them succeed but allow them to make mistakes. As long as they learn from these mistakes and correct the process for future opportunities, you will have a strong employee who is gaining valuable experience resolving difficult situations.

Letting each employee know his contribution is valued makes for a satisfied, happy team. Ensure your employees know the team needs their best efforts. Just as a company doesn't need 20 CEOS, a football team doesn't need 20 quarterbacks. If you want to win games, you have to have a good offense, defense, and special teams. Every role in a company is valuable, and every player wants to do his very best. Now go out there, and win the game!

About the Author: Jeana Quigley is the brand journalist for BambooHR, the No. 1 online HR software for small and medium-sized businesses that have outgrown using spreadsheets to manage their employee information.

(Image: stockimages via

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