Are you standing on an acre of Diamonds?

5 Top ways to maximise existing talent before you start recruiting.

With the UK economy uncertain many business owners would like to hire new people, but are hesitating.

But what about your existing talent? What can you do to ensure you keep your top performers and develop new ones?

I’ve always been intrigued by a true story – with its ageless moral. The story was about a farmer who lived in Africa and through a visitor became tremendously excited about looking for diamonds. Diamonds were already discovered in abundance on the African continent and this farmer got so excited about the idea of millions of dollars worth of diamonds that he sold his farm to head out to the diamond line. He wandered all over the continent, as the years slipped by, constantly searching for diamonds, wealth, which he never found. Eventually he went completely broke and threw himself into a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, the new owner of his farm picked up an unusual looking rock about the size of a country egg and put it on his mantle as a sort of curiosity. A visitor stopped by and in viewing the rock practically went into terminal convulsions. He told the new owner of the farm that the funny looking rock on his mantle was about the biggest diamond that had ever been found. The new owner of the farm said, ‘Heck, the whole farm is covered with them’ – and sure enough it was.

The farm turned out to be the Kimberly Diamond Mine . . . the richest the world has ever known. The original farmer was literally standing on ‘Acres of Diamonds’ until he sold his farm.

Here are five top tips to find your diamonds, increase staff loyalty, retention and results.

Dedicate some time to them.

Before you try to motivate someone, it is really important to know what motivates them. Showing personal interest in people takes time and effort on your part, but the results are well worth it. Work with them to understand their preferred communication style and personality. This will really help create good communication and build long term relationships. Nigel Risner’s book ‘It’s a Zoo around here’ is an excellent resource to assist in developing communication between all sorts of different personalities in your team. So rather than emailing people surveys or profiles to fill out online spend some time improving your communication and relationships… go out of your way to speak to them personally in a relaxed informal atmosphere.

Share your Vision.

Ask them if they know what the vision is for the business? Often the answers may surprise you! If their answers are not what you were expecting, look at how and when you and your management team are communicating this vision to everyone. Make sure it is believable and compelling not just flat words hanging on the wall. And don’t forget to tell and remind them what it is!

Give them some purpose.

Now they understand the vision clearly, show them the connection between their efforts and involvement. If they do their job successfully, what does that mean for the company? Enable them to wake up each morning having a real purpose in what they do at work, and that it does make a tangible difference. Everyone can add value and has a key part to play in creating success.

Give them some room to grow.

Retaining top performers is directly linked to their personal development. Many people have long-term personal and business ambitions. However, they may not always share them with you! But if you talk to them about them, and then help them to achieve them, you will immediately gain their loyalty, and in most cases, far greater levels of retention. Is there an area of the business that they would love to get involved with or do they have some skills that you are not currently developing or using? Why not allow them to put together their own career path and training proposal showing how they could add value to the business and also achieve their personal goals? If your staff turnover currently averages at around 2 years, then why not create 4 year development plans with each of your staff, which will help them and give them more reason to stay with you for the full 4 years?

It’s essential that the person has a path of growth within your company and can gain increasing ownership. When you are hiring, actively think about what new employees’ careers will look like not just what they’ll do day to day, how they’ll fit into your structure, and whether you can create management or leadership opportunities for them in the future. Then you can revisit those conversations to determine how they can develop and take on more responsibility over the year. Helping employees grow within your company lets them know you’re committed for the long haul.

Give (and Ask for) Regular Feedback

Many people dread their yearly reviews because it’s often the only time they get any feedback, and what if they have been unknowingly doing something wrong in the 364 days since last year’s review?

When it comes to retaining talent, one tactic often found to be of vital importance is implementing informal weekly and formal quarterly check-ins. This prevents miscommunication or unclear expectations developing from both sides. So why wait till the end of the year to inform people they weren’t doing well, or not as well as they thought they were. Use these opportunities to make adjustments and mid-flight corrections to keep everyone focused and moving forward.

Don’t forget that feedback is a two-way street, so be prepared to roll with the punches when you ask for some. A leader’s willingness to have difficult conversations is one of the most underrated management skills out there, but it is only during those conversations that you get a true reading of people’s views. You can facilitate this by creating an environment that encourages everyone to speak up freely, but remember it may also require you to push for truly candid feedback on your own performance … and then be prepared to accept it gracefully!

Why not put an on-going plan in place to develop the individuals in your team? I have found this significantly increases client’s staff retention levels and helps them discover and develop talent that was already within the company just looking for an opportunity to shine.  Copyright Peter Holland 2016. All rights reserved.

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