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Getting and Keeping Good People

Aug 17, 2007
As the competition for talented people picks up, forward thinking managers need to assess how they are positioned to keep their good people and attract some more.

Get the basics right
People who have choices, and good people normally do, look for certain features in their employer. It continues to amaze us as we visit different businesses how little attention is paid to some of the basics in the work place.

Why would someone put up with poor pay, disinterested management, run down physical surroundings, poor equipment and sub standard recreation facilities (and by this we mean something as basic as a lunch room and tea and coffee!) if they had a choice.

Those are just the basics. To really compete, you need more.

A professional team
People who have a choice want to belong to a business that is going somewhere. A place where their work matters and they know it makes a contribution and they are recognised for it.

They also want to work somewhere that fits their values, is clear on what is expected from its people and is professional in its approach to managing them.

You need to have a vision and plans to get there. You then have to communicate these to your people and get them excited. You need to define your values, or core competencies, and involve people in acquiring them. This way they will then feel they are on a team of like minded professionals doing worthwhile work.

Rewards are important
Of course rewards are important, but this does not mean paying the highest salary. A fair and consistent way of recognising people's performance financially and non financially is a key tool in keeping people on board. Having a fair and competitive pay system linked to individual performance is a start. Throw out those awards - you need to exceed their provisions.

You also need to have a process for doing this so you don't just end up paying more to attract new people as you are losing old ones.

On top of the financial rewards, interesting work, challenge, a sense of achievement and recognition go a long way to motivating people. After a reasonable level pay is achieved, these are the real motivators. And these can often be provided at very little cost.

Give them room to grow
Probably one of the key factors for attracting and retaining good people is providing room and support for them to grow and develop. This means different things to different people. Training on the latest version of the accounting software may be exciting for one person whereas working along side the Marketing Director learning about strategic planning may be what someone else wants.

Making sure these actions are identified, in line with business needs and carried out requires some effort. But it is a good investment - both in business knowledge and in keeping people and continually improving their performance and satisfaction levels.

To check how you are doing in these areas, use the Diagnostic Tool at the website shown below. It will take about ten minutes to complete and will provide you with a graphical display of your rating plus a written report you can then use for input to your plans.
About the Author
Paul Phillips is a Director of Horizon Management Group, a consulting firm which assists businesses manage their people more effectively. With over 30 years experience in HR he has worked in a number of overseas locations and is now based in Australia. www.horizonmg.com
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