The BLG Blog

Posts & articles that have helped thousands build performance through pragmatic leadership.

Team Leadership & Talent Retention

It’s easy to retain people. It’s not a big trick. Pay them fairly and well and they’ll hang around and do the work. HR specialists have mastered the skills of compensation. They can match your compensation structure to meet your organizational constraints, your organizational goals, the organizational personnel, and the resources the organization has available.

A rational economics approach to retention is straight forward. The problem is, at a certain point, a normative, psychological, approach may be even more important.

Sure, I can retain people with money, but that has a leveling effect. Retention through compensation does not guarantee commitment and personal investment. They’ll stay, but will they be committed and truly invested in your effort?

At a certain point, you’ve got to promise a bit more. Involvement, commitment, entrepreneurship, and risk taking requires not only an economic contract, but a social psychological contract.

That social psychological contract is created by leadership. Specifically, if you want to retain the entrepreneurs, the risk takers, the experts, and the great managers it will depend on your ability to lead. They will stay because they are recognized, engaged, challenged, developed, and optimistic.

You can retain zombies with money, but if you want to retain real organizational players, it’ll come down to the issue of your leadership.

Can you lead your team? Over and over again organizations debate the issue of retention by restructuring retention programs, playing around with the compensation systems, etc. But individuals do not necessarily stay because of the organization. They will stay for their team, they will stay for their team members, and they will stay for their team leaders.

Therefore the retention challenge is a team leadership challenge.

The better the leadership, especially at a group level, the greater the probability of retaining talent.

This is especially true in recent years. As the social contract between employees and their organization has broken down, it has been somewhat replaced by the personal, informal contract that emerges between employees, their teams, and their team leaders.

No longer is the sense of identity couched in the organization. Now it’s couched in teams. Employees speak of “my team” and “my group”; rarely do they speak of the organization with any sense of collective.

As such, team leadership training, which has always been an integral part in making organizations more innovative and creative, is also at the front line of talent retention.



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