Challenging Top Performers to Keep Them – Yes, You Read That Correctly
“Challenging” isn’t usually considered a positive descriptor. When a person, situation, or environment are flagged as challenging, it usually means they’re a problem. They’re an obstacle to be navigated around or an issue that needs to be overcome.
When employees face challenges at work, for example, that usually means one of two things: 1.) they feel enough personal motivation and love for the company that they work to resolve the challenge, or 2.) they don’t. Challenges push engaged employees to excel, but they also push unengaged employees out the door.
So if you have a top performer on your team who seems disengaged, bored, or ready to look for work elsewhere, it may seem counterintuitive to deliberately place obstacles in the person’s path. But think twice. This may be just the thing that he or she needs to buckle down and face the job with fresh eyes. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Challenges help us learn, and learning feels good
Your employee wants to learn new things; she doesn’t just want this because learning feels positive and meaningful. She also wants to build out her resume and achieve her career goals. Difficult projects, new skills, and exposure to new aspects of the industry can all be considered challenges…but facing them can build an employee’s sense of accomplishment and rekindle a fading sense of ambition. Giving a glazed-over employee a difficult project can spark a transformation.
Challenges make us feel alive
We don’t always love adventures while we’re having them. And there are some activities we enjoy having done, even if we really don’t enjoy doing them. There’s something magical about looking back on a harrowing ride after it’s over. And when you offer this feeling to a checked-out employee or disengaged team, there’s a strong chance they’ll want to get back on the ride and go through it again.
Challenges should be appropriate; choose them wisely
Push your employees toward challenges that make use of their rarest and most valuable skills, not toward busy work or manufactured hassles. Just because a task is awkward, miserable or tedious doesn’t mean it will make your employee feel engaged and connected. Before you overextend an employee or push them into the deep end, make sure you’re choosing the right employee, for the right task, for the right reasons.
Again, the wrong task and the wrong reasons may push a detached employee further out the door, so be careful. Before you move forward, sit down for a conversation about what your employee wants to accomplish or learn while they occupy this role.
Work With a Top Recruiter in Scottsdale
For more on how to find the right team members that are ready to be pushed and help grow your business, turn to the experts at and work with a leading recruiter in Scottsdale!
Hiring is Hard: Three Areas to Focus on to Improve Retention
As experienced managers eventually learn, hiring is difficult, tedious, expensive and risky. Reviewing resumes and meeting with a long line of candidates can wreak havoc on a manager’s schedule, and it can pull interviewers and other employees away from critical tasks that require focus and attention. And the stakes are high; a poor hiring decision can have lasting consequences for everyone involved.
Fortunately, the best way to get around these hiring obstacles is simple: spend less time hiring.
Once you find and onboard talented candidates, don’t let them get away. Work together with them, help them grow their careers, and keep them stay on the team so you won’t have to face the hassle of saying goodbye and searching for a replacement. Here are three moves that can support your retention efforts.
If you’re like most employers, you probably conduct a formal performance review with each employee about once a year. Performance reviews can help employees stay on track to success, but once a year won’t do the trick. In fact, negative feedback gathered in July and dropped on an employee in January can feel like an awkward ambush, and it can undermine the relationship in ways both subtle and obvious. It’s not pleasant to be criticized, but it’s especially unhelpful to have that criticism delivered six months after the fact. Meet with your team members on a regular and informal basis to check in with them, let them know how they’re doing, and allow them to return the gesture.
Compensate with more than money
Of course, you’ll need to pay your employees a competitive salary in order to keep them on board, but a little extra effort goes a long way. In addition to your base transaction (a week of work for a week of pay), make your office feel like a second home and your teams feel like a second family. Small gestures like free lunches, fun events, softball teams, and Friday happy hours make an employer much harder to walk away from.
Talk about what they’re getting, not just what they give
When you meet with your employee during your regular sessions, don’t just talk about how well she’s performing and what she’s contributing to the company. These things matter, but they only represent half the relationship and half of the equation. Make sure your employee feels satisfied with how this job supports her career plans. Is she receiving the training and exposure she needs to build her resume and carry her to her next destination? If not, how can you help? What resources can you provide? What kinds of projects and challenges will benefit her the most?
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Retention Strategies: Talk to Your Employees Every Few Months
In a rapidly evolving job marketplace, the best way to protect your company’s bottom line starts with one word – stability. Lower churn can help you save money on hiring, training and onboarding costs, and the longer you keep your employees within your walls, the more you benefit from their growing store of institutional knowledge. So, stability matters and stability starts with careful selection and high effort dedicated to retention.
Hire the right people in the first place, then keep them on board if possible by cultivating management strategies that build loyalty and commitment. Start by meeting with each employee on an individual basis each month and discussing topics like these.
What’s working and what isn’t?
Is your new hire comfortable with the processes and procedures related to her work? Do your software systems and workflows support their productivity or stand in their way? Think about how you phrase your question and don’t imply that it’s their responsibility to adapt to the system (not the other way around). Make it clear that you’re listening, willing to consider their suggestions, and willing to change or fix elements of the process that don’t work for them. If they feel heard and they see the path toward success and productivity as a mutual goal, they’re more likely to stay for the long haul.
Are you happy with your current jobs/responsibilities?
Ask the employee to assess his general comfort levels with the job and their specific responsibilities. Does the job resemble what they expected? This question doesn’t just apply to their first weeks and months; it should be asked again, and again, year after year. When employees lose patience or burn out due to misaligned expectations, it doesn’t always happen right away. Sometimes this drift can take years.
How can the company improve?
Encourage the employee to be open and generous with her constructive criticism. Most employees – especially recent hires – won’t answer this question honestly unless they feel safe and respected, so make it clear that their insights have value and you genuinely want to hear and implement them. Clearly explain the purpose of your monthly chat sessions (improving retention) and explain that the company puts concerted effort into making employees feel valued and deploying their skills and talents in the most expedient way.
You want your employees to thrive, find meaning in their work, and stay if possible. So, make this clear. Encourage them to help you with these goals. As always, company success will result from a team effort between employees and managers.
Work With a Top Recruiter in Scottsdale
For more on how to use simple moves and cost-effective tools to retain your talented workers, turn to the management experts at the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Diversity and Culture Support Innovation
Countless management guidelines and tips emphasize one word over and over again: culture. A strong culture, we’re told repeatedly, means a strong staffing strategy and a strong and thriving business. If employees feel engaged with their work and they feel a sense of pride and confidence in each other, this positive attitude will spread, and if they don’t, negativity and distrust will pervade the atmosphere, with detrimental results.
But too often, “shape your culture” is misheard and misinterpreted to mean “hire people who make you feel comfortable.” If hiring managers don’t examine their feelings and they respond to candidates based on “a sense of connection” alone, they tend to unconsciously hire people who look, speak, and act like they do. The result isn’t a great culture; it’s a mess. Diversity is what makes a culture strong, and building a diverse workplace requires effort, thought, and strategy. Keep these considerations in mind as you move forward.
Gut Responses and Warm Feelings Won’t Get You There
People are often wired to behave in ways that run counter to their best interests. We want to stay healthy, but we eat donuts because they taste good. We want a thriving, functional, innovative company culture, but we choose the candidate who looks like us because there’s “just something about him” that puts us at ease. Look past the easy impulse and aggressively seek candidates that DON’T fit prevailing patterns and demographics in your office. The path to growth starts with an assessment (What is our age distribution? How many people with disabilities work here? How are our employee backgrounds similar and different? Where are the missing voices?) and a conscious effort to depart from homogeneity.
Act on Opportunities to Learn and Grow
A candidate who represents a minority in your company has registered a complaint about the culture. They feel unwelcome, unappreciated, or maybe even threatened by some aspect of the workplace. Do you coach, soothe, and silence the employee so the workplace won’t have to change? Or do you change the workplace and solve the problem? The second path is often more difficult, but it’s the path to success. The first option brings only toxicity and stagnation.
A Rainbow of Faces Isn’t Enough
For diversity to actually have an impact on your bottom line, you’ll need to embrace and cultivate it, not just tolerate it. If you look out over your workforce and see different faces, ages, and backgrounds, that’s great, and it’s a meaningful accomplishment. But not if you encourage your workers to leave their differences at the door and behave like robots from nine to five. Celebrate and leverage the different perspectives employees bring to the table—don’t downplay or encourage employees to hide them. That helps no one.
Work with a Top Staffing Agency in Scottsdale
For more on how to attract, hire, and make the most of a wide variety of voices and perspectives, reach out to the top recruiters in Scottsdale at the ACCENT Hiring Group.
How Do Recruiters Create Candidate Profiles that Attract Top Talent?
Accent recruiters know that the difference between a winning candidate and mismatch can be highly nuanced, and without years of experience, great listening skills, and evidence-based interview strategies, these important details can easily be missed.
With that in mind, we conduct a thorough, multi-stage candidate profiling process with both the client and the candidate in mind at every step. Here are some of the detailed steps that set us apart and help us match the right candidate to the right position.
We start with pre-screening.
The most efficient way to narrow the candidate pool starts with the very first step: pre-screening. When you ask the big questions first, you can get to the truth before either party wastes valuable money and time. Since we recognize the coarse-grain details that can turn candidates away (commuting distance, misaligned industries, misaligned expectations, etc), we ask about these details upfront. Candidate who can handle the biggest initial challenges (such as relocation) stay in the pool and move onto the next stage.
If the candidate shows interest in the role, the next stage involves personal interviews with Accent staff. We’ll invite applicants in for a sit-down meeting in which we discuss aptitude, work history, and goals.
Analysis and number crunching.
At this stage, the in-depth evaluation process begins. We create a data-enhanced resume for each candidate and factor in the details gained through the interview, the candidate’s behavioral profile, and a close examination of skill-work adaptability.
At this stage, if the candidate’s interest levels and the evaluation process reveal a match between company and candidate needs and abilities, we begin verification of key details. We’ll confirm references, education, and publicly available salary information. Then we’ll move on to optional reviews, which may include a criminal background check, drug screening, or handwriting analysis.
The final stage
At this point, after the candidate has passed each of our evidence-based reviews, we’ll double check to make sure the candidate can meet the specific needs requested by the employer during our consultation process. For example, if the employer needs qualified accounting pro, we ensure a skill match. But if they also consider second language fluency a plus, we’ll confirm that detail.
Find the Best Talent to Fill the Best Jobs in Scottsdale
At every stage, our process is tested, proven, and carefully designed to ensure a successful hire. But we know that times change and industry needs fluctuate. So when a certain data marker, skill test, or behavioral interview question no longer brings success, we adjust our process accordingly. At every turn, we apply the evaluation procedures that bring you closer to the talented new hires you’re looking for. To learn more, contact the team at the ACCENT Hiring Group today!