Tips for Inspiring Your Most Talented Employees

A fatter paycheck, more vacation days and regular pats on the back are simply not enough to fully inspire your best talent.

And companies rarely grow when their workforce shrinks. In fact, those that are heavily reliant on the relationships and skills of their most talented employees risk financial ruin when they neglect their top performers. How can you manage and retain your most gifted workers? Here are five tips.

1. Create opportunities for personal growth.

Intelligent professionals play the long game: Instead of chasing money, they actively seek out ways to grow that will lead more naturally to greater financial reward. As the employer, you can take advantage of this trend.

Place your highest-performing team members in positions or roles in which they can continue their upward trajectory within your company. Frame employees' responsibilities in ways that will highlight how the tasks they perform will provide long-term benefits that positively impact their personal and professional lives.

2. Make their work meaningful.

Some 68.5 percent of workers say they're not engaged at their jobs; they feel like cogs in a machine. Sadly, this lack of commitment to and enthusiasm for their work makes them a flight risk. And in many cases, company leaders do not even realize the problem.

To combat employee turnover, provide a context that explains why your employees should do certain things. Understanding their value to the company increases their self-worth and makes it easy to sell them on your business’ overall mission. If they see themselves as solving real problems, they may come to love what they are doing.

Another way to make team members feel at home is to put them in projects where they must actively collaborate with their peers. By creating a codependent work environment, you encourage employees to function in groups instead of operate in a silo. Knowing that their team’s performance relies on their ability to produce good work will inspire them to achieve more.

3. Promote a brand they can be proud of.

Lots of people want to work at Facebook and Google; there is a certain appeal to joining a big-brand company. But plenty of talented folk would also give anything to work at smaller businesses they intimately know and admire.

Firms that successfully retain their hardest-working employees create an environment that team members want to brag about to their friends. Make your workers proud by earning positive press in publications they regularly read. Develop a brand they want to always be associated with. As a result of your brand-building efforts, they will stay.

4. Pursue their ideas.

Your top performers deserve to have their ideas heard. More often than not, their suggestions may positively impact your bottom line. To take advantage of innovation within, allow workers to pursue projects they are passionate about.

Even if they fail, they will be forever thankful that you gave them a chance to shoot for the stars.

5. Swiftly fire underperformers.

The minute you recognize wasted talent, let that person go. Firing underperformers sets an important precedent among your employees by championing excellence and rejecting mediocrity. Doing so also recognizes your best team members for their hard work.

Of course, remember to do it ethically and honorably. Avoid making a scene and let that individual leave with dignity. You will never want to create an atmosphere of fear. Instead, you will want to foster an environment of accomplishment and mutual respect.

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