Keeping the best

Retention is a big topic in my columns. We've covered it before, we're covering it now and we'll continue to cover it in the future because it's a critical part of your management career. After all, how good is a manager with a lousy staff?

There’s two key Rs of management: recruiting and retention. The following are some tips/thoughts for the latter. Remember - just because the economy continues to be stagnant doesn't mean you can ignore retention. That is a huge mistake. How you treat your employees now will directly impact whether they'll still be in your employ when times turn around. Treat your employees poorly now, and they'll be out the door when the next best offer comes along. Also, in the long run, every industry is small. Word gets around. Treat your employees poorly, word will spread and it won't be so easy to attract that next superstar.

  • As ever, money is not the No. 1 employee driver, contrary to what many of us would automatically think. In many surveys, it's at the bottom half of a Top 10. Challenging work. benefits, flexible work schedules, training and employee culture usually rank as more important.
  • Reward employees according to performance. This is more detailed that simply, "Give bonuses to good employees." Instead of regarding employees equally or according to job type, divide your staff into three performance groups: top, middle and bottom. Give the best bonuses to all-stars and whatever's left to the middle performers. Your underachievers should not receive a bonus.
  • If everyone-including the poor performers- get some sort of bonus, you're rewarding mediocrity. And don't think your staff doesn't know who is or is not pulling their weight. And, even though management usually requests that staff not reveal pay raises or bonus amounts, word gets around. Your good performers will be none too happy to learn that their less-than-stellar counterparts are being rewarded for their subpar performance.

    The concept of weighting bonus amounts to performance class is interesting considering many of us have smaller amounts of bonus money to distribute. And job title needn't play into the equation. An average senior programmer does not necessarily deserve a higher bonus than an excellent junior programmer.

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