How Can Managers Both Attract And Then Retain The Best Workers?

In order to build a great team, you need to both attract and retain good workers
In order to build a great team, you need to both attract and retain good workers
Image Credit: John Keogh

One of the toughest parts of being a manager is building a great team. It is our responsibility to find ways to get the best people to want to join our team in the first place. It turns out that that is a tough thing to do. However, it doesn’t stop there. As managers, once someone has joined our team, we now have to find ways to make them want to remain a part of our team. None of this is easy to do. All of us could do with just a little bit of help in finding ways to do it better.

The Challenge Of Attracting The Best Workers

The past decade of unlimited innovation gave managers the widest talent gap the workforce has ever seen. This talent gap created a class of engineers, developers, and technologists who consistently outperform their peers. These are sometimes referred to as “100xers”. And while they’re in short supply, they’re the ones driving the success of today’s top teams. The question for managers is what goes into attracting, retaining, and managing the best talent? To begin, it should be little surprise that these potential team members won’t be swayed by conventional, cookie-cutter acquisition and retention efforts. They have endless choices at other companies, and they know it.

To land talent like the big companies do, it starts with reimagining the traditional approach. Managers also have to understand what keeps the best there, which means attraction and attention are intertwined. I’ve got some bad news for you – the traditional solutions no longer work. Company-wide trivia night, free lunches, happy hours, and 3 weeks of PTO are all great things – but they’re expected at this point. What managers need to do is to get to know your candidates and understand what is most important to them. With this information, you can craft a custom offer that meets or at least nods to their lifestyle and personal needs, state the authors.

The Challenge Of Retaining The Best Workers

If you get good at attracting the best workers, then it’s time to shift gears. Now you are going to have to find ways to keep them happy being members of your team. Not every company can afford perks, everyone can get creative. In the world of Covid-19 this could be any number of things – from food delivery credits, to highly flexible remote work policies, to newly-revised health benefits, to one-on-one coaching. When the world around us changes dramatically, so too should the way we think about retaining talent.

What do managers need to do in order to manage top talent? Top talent must be managed as top talent. That is, a manager must embrace the role of a “top manager” to get it right. Here’s a shortlist of suggestions for managing like a pro:

  • Flexibility: With top talent, the job is going to get done. How exactly it gets done (when and where) should be of minimal concern for managers. Focus should be more on results, less on process.
  • Feedback: top talent is amazing at what they do, but part of being top is always remaining curious and open to feedback. Fostering a culture of open feedback is a must.
  • Steer clear of the Sabotage Impulse: There exist two types of impulses in employees and contractors: the Success Impulse or the Sabotage Impulse. Those with the Success Impulse are always curious, open to learning, and focused on lifting the team up. Those with the Sabotage Impulse deflect blame, ignore critical feedback, and operate solely with self-interest. Those with the Sabotage Impulse must be let go. And for those who exist somewhere in the middle of the continuum, great managers guide them towards the Success Impulse.
  • Check in on needs: Meeting the needs of your talent doesn’t stop at the job negotiation phase. The best managers check in frequently to make sure their team has everything they want and need.

So what can managers take away from all of this? Simple: you need to develop a sense of trust with your best workers. Hire talent that you believe you’ll be able to trust. And as a manager, you need to continually check in on that instinct. Do you trust your team? Your employees? Your contractors?

What All Of This Means For You

This new approach to how managers do their job is still rippling through various industries. The bottom line is that the power has shifted, and as the world’s most innovative companies have figured out, effective management requires much more give-and-take. What makes smart companies “smart” and able to attract, retain, and manage top talent is quite simple. They have all broken away from their decades-long hiring and retention norms.

It’s simply a matter of three things creativity, hustle, and innovation. Even just the concept of embracing a “bespoke approach” is new for many industries. Some managers are doing a great job, listening to top candidates, ditching cookie-cutter offers, and getting creative with their perks. To those managers that have not yet embraced the paradigm shift, we need to realize that there’s no better time to start than now!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How should a manager measure how happy their top workers are?

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