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Inside IBH: How to Retain Your Top Achievers

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Are you worried about keeping your top performers? You should be—especially if you haven't been talking with them about where their careers are headed.
Paying attention to your employees' career development pays off in their commitment.

Your most valuable employees—the high achievers who require low maintenance—are prime targets for recruiters. They'll become even more attractive as the job market rebounds. These are the very folks who are most marketable to other employers, and you'll feel the pinch if you haven't created a reason for them to stay.

To avoid losing the people you need most, make sure your management routine includes discussing career development with your employees.

Effective managers make it a point to guide and support employees in attaining career goals. This can be done in settings as simple as informal discussions. Practiced consistently, this actually makes a manager's job easier—a little time invested in coaching employees is a lot less costly than managing short-handed.

Let's consider a hypothetical employee, based on many cases I've seen as a career advisor. I'll call him "Jack." A highly skilled software engineer and a top performer, Jack is self-motivated, a good problem solver and an independent worker. Before the economy slowed, recruiters regularly tempted him with interesting software challenges, more money, faster career growth. Now they're calling again.

A few weeks ago, a recruiter contacted Jack about a position with a higher salary. After a series of interviews, Jack received a generous offer.

Jack mulled over his choices. When it came right down to it, money wasn't the issue for Jack; it was the future of his career. The new company was wooing him with new career options, while his own employer was silent.

Approaching his manager to ask about future career possibilities, Jack was rebuffed. His boss angrily interpreted Jack's actions as a sign of disloyalty. Rather than help him sort out his career concerns, she launched her response with, "After all I've done for you…"


The boss's reaction provided the impetus Jack needed. He accepted the new position.

The time and money that it took to find a replacement for Jack cost the manager much more than if she'd been discussing Jack's career goals with him all along. Had his manager listened closely enough, she would have heard Jack's uncertainty about leaving, and she could have discussed ways to help him with career planning. All Jack needed was a good reason to stay.

Don't Be 'That Boss': Sign Up For Career Coaching For Managers

If you haven't been communicating with your employees about their career development—or if you'd like to try some new ways of doing so—you’re in luck!

Lehigh HR’s Workplace Learning team will be conducting a special two-part Career Coaching For Managers training workshop on October 30 and 31. The training will take place from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. each day.


Over the four hours of the program, you’ll get the tools you need to create a supportive environment where your staff can thrive. More information about the program and other career management programs can be found here.

King, D. (n.d.). How to retain your top achievers. Raleigh, NC: Workplace Options. Reprinted from the IBH website by permission.

Here are some tips from Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH)
to help you open the lines of communication.

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Spotlight is published monthly by Human Resources. Please address any comments to Hillary Kwiatek, Spotlight Editor, Human Resources, 428 Brodhead Avenue, send email to hik210@lehigh.edu, or call extension 85165.

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