• Never Grow Up

When Low Retention Accompanies High Performance - The Why and The How


Work, as we know it, is changing rapidly. Artificial intelligence, a new generation of customers who want personal and intuitive brand experiences, and increased globalisation – all these factors are making organizations relook at talent management and acquisition. They now want employees who can adapt quickly, are technologically literate and are people managers. The concern here though is that companies are finding it difficult to retain good talent and high performers. According to a report by IDC and Workday, about 46% employees in Singapore intend on leaving their jobs within a year.


Why Do High Performers Leave?

Good performers generally know their worth. They know that they can produce good results and expect appropriate rewards. What then, are some of the factors, that can prompt a high performer to leave an organisation? According to the report by IDC and Workday, the top three reasons for switching jobs in Asia Pacific region are better pay/reward (24%), better career prospects (15%) and better work life balance (13%). Let’s delve a little deeper.


Lack of Engagement

Employees may be satisfied but may not feel connected to their work or workplace. How does one understand or assess employee disengagement? With a little attention, engagement and empathy, you might be able to spot subtle signs. They would come to work on time every day but just complete the tasks allocated to them and leave at soon as it’s done. If an employee is reluctant to participate in social or team activities, if he/she is absent more often, or if he/she has stopped being vocal about issues and sharing positive ideas, the employee is probably disengaged.


Issues Related to Management

Make sure that your organization’s management philosophy accommodates the suggestions, concerns and challenges of employees. Do your employees and high performers feel that they are valued or that their suggestions and concerns will get the attention it deserves? Managing people is not easy – you have to focus on each team member and understand what each one requires to give their best at work.


Misaligned Reporting Structure

It’s often said that people don’t leave a company, they leave their managers. According to Kaustav Chakravarthy, Executive Director, Global Human Resources at Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning, “One of the surest ways to lose a high-performer is to put them under the wrong manager. I've seen more than a few great performers put down their papers after working under a new manager for a few months and realizing that goals were either poorly defined or constantly changing, that the rewards were not tied to performance, and/or the path to growth was no longer clear. Those managers weren't 'bad' per-se, just not sufficiently skilled at managing high-performers.” Just like the fact that every good student cannot become a good teacher, every good performer cannot necessarily be a great manager.


Toxic Work Culture

If your organization and team culture is characterised by micro management, lack of trust, dishonesty and bullying, high performers will quit. Good performers know that if they can perform well in a toxic environment, they will be able to work way better in an employee-friendly culture.


How Can Good Talent Be Retained?

High performers always want the assurance that their growth path is clear and that the organization is invested in their journey. They look forward to their chance at winning. They expect well-defined goals, recognition and appropriate rewards, personalised learning opportunities and challenging assignments. You have to find the right mix that will help you retain good talent.


Provide Career Advancement Opportunities

Ensure that your employees are made aware of the learning and development options available. Career advancement is critical for high performers. Don’t go for the normal route and promote them to managerial positions – they might not want to manage people. Build a non-managerial career path for them and factor in their goal of career advancement. Pay heed to what your employees are saying – it will help you gauge whether they are getting the resources and responsibilities that’ll put them on a growth path.


Empower Your People Managers

If the people managing high performers don’t have the scope to do what’s right for his/her team members, then you are looking at possible attrition. When a high performer does a great job, allow the manager to offer him/her a special bonus or a raise or even a couple of days off. You won’t be able to retain top talent if you don’t recognize good work and offer rewards. When working with high performers, encourage your managers to:


1. Define the goals and include a few challenging tasks along the way.

2. Provide the resources they need to perform and offer relevant and meaningful insights into results.

3. Catch up with them, one-on-one, weekly or fortnightly, to discuss their challenges, offer support and celebrate their successes.

4. Keep them aligned with the team’s values, purpose and goals.


The most crucial factor, however, is building the right culture. Place your trust in your team; it starts from the top. Earn respect and be empathetic – everyone has problems. Provide the right opportunities and encourage people to learn and grow. Rather than calculating work hours, focus on getting the work done and allow people to take decisions autonomously. Allow your team members to be who they are and ensure that there’s no bullying or discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual preferences or one’s background. Always focus on your people first; everything else will fall into place.