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Best practices for identifying, managing and retaining talent


What are the best non-monetary ways to motivate, reward,and retain workers today?

Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay  put this question out to a network of consultants and authors, and here are the top answers she gathered.

Keep them “in the loop” – Let them make an impact and develop skills
“The best motivation is when employees feel that they are contributing to something big, and have an impact on the results of the company, says Nancy McGuire, of McGuire Consulting Group.trio
“Money is far from the best motivator. Most people put a higher value on feeling respected, feeling “in the loop,” having the ability to be expressive at work, and having a meaningful voice in decisions that affect them.” — Todd Dewett, author of Leadership Redefined (TVA, 2008) and an associate professor of management at Wright State University.

Research findings of Harvard Business Review and the Corporate Leadership Council, reveal  that the hard working employees expect their organizations to treat them well—by providing them with stimulating work, lots of recognition, compelling career paths, and the chance to prosper if the organization does. So when the organization is struggling—as most are these days—your star players are the first to be disappointed. As a result, when organizations cut back and ask employees to “tough it out,” the stars will be the first to say, “No thanks. I’d rather find an employer who appreciates the high level of contributions I’m making.” That calls for recognizing them early and often, explicitly linking their individual goals to corporate ones, and letting them help solve the company’s biggest problems.

Nancy McGuire, goes on to say: “Once worked on an international assignment in Dublin, where the job market was very hot. The employees were mostly under 30, and salaries were low. As their leader, I focused on:

  • Ensuring they had work that was meaningful. Even though they were very young in business, they were given work that had impact and significance to the company. They could connect their results to the bottom line of the company.
  • Giving them roles that provided developmental experience in transferable skills. Many they needed experience in presenting to executives, handling negotiations, and other uncomfortable situations.

“The majority of the best performers stayed with the company and continued to progress successfully. Their meaningful work and added developmental opportunities created a commitment to the company that didn’t exist when they first joined. ”

Help them plan their careers
“Giving an employee a chance to increase their skills and visibility on an interdepartmental task force builds skills and company loyalty. Encouraging employee responsibility for career management can elicit employee ideas for skill- and career-building assignments that help employees advance their careers in the direction they want.” — Rachelle J. Canter, president of RJC Associates and author of Make the Right Career Move (Wiley, 2006)

Research findings of Harvard Business Review and the Corporate Leadership Council, pinpoint three key attributes that really matter: ability, engagement, and aspiration. Ability is the most obvious attribute. To be successful in progressively more important roles, employees must have the intellectual, technical, and emotional skills (both innate and learned) to handle increasingly complex challenges. No less important, however, is engagement—the level of personal connection and commitment the employee feels toward the firm and its mission. Aspiration – this third critical attribute—the desire for recognition, advancement, and future rewards, and the degree to which what the employee wants aligns with what the company wants for him or her.

3 things on effective recognition
“When it comes to motivation, money is the last thing one should be thinking about. I advise my clients to remember three things:

  • Responsibility along with empowerment is the best motivator
  • Recognition inspires, not only the recipient but also others
  • Different people see value in different things, so one should strive to understand what is important to individuals working for you. This is especially critical when working in an unfamiliar cultural environment.

Ilya Bogorad, principal of Toronto-based Bizvortex Consulting Group

Show them you respect and trust them
“It really isn’t difficult to motivate and recognize without money. A survey I conducted found that some of the most meaningful actions involved showing respect, trust, and confidence. Some examples, in the employees’ own words:

  • Having my boss stop by my cubicle each day, just to say hi. I didn’t feel intimidated just visible.
  • My manager had more confidence in me than I did.
  • I was given a difficult customer to assist. The message I heard was, I trust you.
  • My boss asked me to participate in a panel discussion on his behalf.

“Also, be sure to thank them. Yes, it is their job, but they will do it with so much more enthusiasm for a manager who appreciates them.” — Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works (Berrett-Koehler, 2003)


About Dr. Ev D'aMigo; PhD

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