Tell Your Team that You Love Them!


Recently, one of my clients was stunned by the resignation of a star employee — a woman he’d been developing for an executive role, possibly even as his successor.  He told me he was meeting with her in a few hours to discuss what he might do to keep her.  Then he shared, “I’m going to let her know that she was being groomed for a top leadership spot.”
“You mean to say,” I asked, “that you’d never told her she was on your high-potential list?” Apparently that discussion had never taken place.
This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that I climb onto a soapbox and repeat this message: Tell your people – ESPECIALLY your best talent – how much you love them!
Do you remember how much time and attention you lavished on your best and brightest hires when they came on board? How you carved out time to meet with them during orientation, and rearranged your schedule to spend time in training and nurturing the relationship up front?  And then what?  If you’re like many managers, you got busy let your relationship with them shift to low-grade maintenance.
In other words, there was a point when you started to take them for granted. Big mistake.  While the economy may still suffer in many ways, the reality is that most talented people still have lots of options.

Practice Annual Re-Recruitment

Years ago I learned of the process called “Annual Re-recruitment” — and I share it again in the hope that you might avoid having to engage one of your top high-potential people in the conversation of, “what can you do to keep you?” after they’ve already given notice.
Annual Re-recruitment is stunningly simple.  All you need do is identify the top 15-25% of your people and sit down with each of them for a few-minute conversation**, in which you say, “I’m so glad you are here.  I value your talent and your contribution, and I hope we are letting you know that often enough.  I want you to be with us one year from now.  What will it take for that to be true?” Your own words may differ, but hopefully you get the idea.
Don’t assume people know you value them, unless you tell them directly and often!
Remember: Leadership is not about a title.  Anyone can be a leader who seeks to build enduring relationships with good people, and who makes it a priority to deliver positive feedback and give people the opportunity to learn and grow.
**And don’t even think about saying, “Jim, I don’t have the time.”  Because then I’m going to ask you, “Oh, but you DO have the time to update the job description, interview multiple replacement candidates, set aside time for onboarding, and then repeat the training process all over again?”  Nuh, uh.  If you don’t have the time to spend nurturing relationships with your best people, then something is awry, and to figure out what, just look in a mirror.  If you call yourself a leader, then behave like one!

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