Leadership and career

The 7 Things You Must Do to Keep Your Best People From Quitting

By April 1, 2016 No Comments

If you’ve watched one of your top-performing employees walk out the door, then you know the “sting” of rejection.

It doesn’t matter why they quit. They up and left, didn’t they? They picked another opportunity – and another employer – over you.

“Was it something I said? Where did we go wrong?”

OK, spurned lover protests aside – apparently something DID go wrong. And while you can’t control every variable impacting the departing employee’s decision-making process, maybe there actually was something you could have done to prevent the leave-taking.

Let’s consider the reasons why talented employees tend to stick around, and then you can do a little soul-searching.

Talented employees stay because they are:

Paid Well

This one’s pretty obvious, so of course I’ll mention it first. Have you done your homework here?  Do you know the going rate for the positions you offer?  Do you know the market value of your people?  If you’ve boxed in a top-performer by keeping him at a pay grade that’s below his market value, then he’s ripe for the plucking.


This one’s more touchy-feely than a fat paycheck, but no less important. While we all work for the money, we also like having our egos stroked.  Besides praising your people, what programs or practices do you have in place to make sure they’re feeling the love?  Don’t underestimate the importance of planning awesome employee off-sites or offering bonuses and gift cards and the like when members of your team go above and beyond.  Look for ways both big and small to communicate to the people of your company that without them there would be no company.

Listened To

Your team members need to know they have your ear and your attention when they come to you with ideas, problems and suggestions. And when they trust you with these offerings, they need to see acknowledgment and action from you.  If you’re just doing the “smile and nod” thing or you’re waiting to talk instead of actually listening, your employees will pick up on this.  Hey, you heard me, right?


Your long-range planning should include having a sense of where each of your people might be in one year, three years, five years. As your company’s goals change and the skills of your people evolve, you’ll sometimes be called to create positions in order to face challenges in the market and to meet the needs of your people.  When it comes to retaining employees, never underestimate the power of a re-jiggered job description or a pumped-up title.  I’m not talking about blowing smoke; I’m talking about offering promotions when warranted so that your people feel acknowledged and valued.

Involved in Decisions

Most of us aren’t that crazy about surprises, especially as they relate to our jobs. Be mindful about making too many decisions without input, as your decisions end up becoming pronouncements that your team has to live by.  And that breeds resentment.  Never mind the fact that you don’t know everything and your decision making can benefit from their input.  My point here is that you’ve a better chance of keeping your team intact if you treat everyone like a player.


Never forget that you play a unique role in the lives of your employees. They truly want to learn from you – or from an appropriate person in your organization – as knowledge will fuel the kind of personal and career growth that results in job (and life) satisfaction. If you’re not aware if any actual mentoring is taking place at your organization right now, then get cracking.  If you’re already informally mentoring key people, then consider a starting a more structured, company-wide mentoring program


Shiny things attract us. New-ness is appealing.  Fail to challenge your best people and they’ll seek the rush of novelty elsewhere.


So – how did you fare? Do you have a clue as to perhaps why the last few defectors defected?


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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