Employee Stickiness: 3 Ways to Get the Goo

Kathy Rapp Coaching, Communication, Employee Engagement, HR (& Life!) Advice, Kathy Rapp, Retention

Loyal.  Faithful.  Devotion.

This isn’t a post about Kayne and Kim’s pending marriage.

It is a post about love.  Well… maybe not love but at least stickiness.  What does it really take to ensure your top talent sticks around?  Let me tell ya—you’re not going to find the answer in an employee engagement survey.  You probably won’t even be able to decipher it from a focus group.

Lucky for you, I’ve got it figured out.

Okay, so perhaps I don’t have it ALL figured out, but occasionally I have bursts of common sense.  Here are 3 nuggets of advice to help create sticky goo for your top talent:

  • Hire Retainable Talent – Guess what?  That “A” player Sr. Accountant you just hired isn’t going to want to be a Sr. Accountant forever.  If you want your hi-pos to stay, you have to hire people for careers, not jobs.  A job is disposable.  It will keep people intrigued for about 12 months, but then you have to mix it up.  You also have to have a longer term plan for this kind of talent.  It doesn’t have to be a promotion or brand new job every year, but it should include work outside of the norm.  A special assignment, project work, a few weeks shadowing another hi-po, outside development, mentorship, investing in a coach—all ways to spice up the regular job and keep people engaged.
  • Develop a Deep Relationship – Your top talent needs to know all about you and you need to know all about them.  Where and how did they grow up?  How was the date last weekend?  Why did your kid go to school without lunch today?  Make sure your employees know you have their best interest at heart.  Be sincere.  Cuss, cry or shout with joy in front of them.  Show them you are human and have feelings, too.  I HATE that I’m a crier, but when I get jacked-up emotional—good or bad—sometimes I can’t control the tears.  I’ve finally realized its okay to let my team see that side of me, red nose and all.
  • Have a Genuine Conversation – Admit when you’re wrong.  Be direct when you have a gripe or observation.  Be vulnerable and open in your communications.  It sucks giving people news they don’t want to hear, so tell them that.  You don’t have to be above feelings just because you’re a “manager” of people.  They won’t always love what you have to say, but they will respect that you said it and in a way that was constructive and passionate.

When employees see you have a true interest in their careers, you care about them inside and outside of work and you’re willing to have courageous conversations, they will see you as more than just a boss.  And BOOM!  There’s your sticky goo.