Retaining Employees - The Key to Competitive Success

Published by PI Worldwide

Often the primary distinguishing characteristic between industry-leading companies and their less successful competitors is the quality and motivation of their people. Retaining talented, motivated people is critical to both current and future success. Studies of successful businesses indicate that the quality of employee life is largely a function of the quality of leadership. The better the boss is at recognizing, rewarding and developing the employees, the more willingly and enthusiastically those employees will stay and contribute to the company's success.

As you know from the PI Management Workshop, good leadership requires fine-tuning your messages and the conditions of work for each of your valuable employees. Here are some tips to help you more effectively retain people and maximize their energy and productivity.


  1. Clearly understand the job and context into which you place people. The closer the fit the more you tap into the natural energy and drive the individual can contribute and the better the work conditions positively affect and reward the person. The greater the extent to which the job requires opposing behaviors, the less likely it is that the job will consistently motivate excellent performance. So the key is to clarify, clarify, clarify! Keep working the job design to weed out non-essential requirements. Hone in on the key outputs and processes that will drive results. Remove competing, non-essential requirements and reassign them to a more appropriate person or eliminate the requirement altogether.
  2. Having clarified and fine-tuned the core job requirements, aim all supporting efforts such as performance tracking, training, coaching, and communicating at that core. Know the PIs (motivating needs) of your people and keep them in mind in your interactions with each individual. In each interaction, ask yourself how you can best approach the individual and positively stimulate them toward productive action.
  3. Don't assume that all employees are looking for fast-track growth. Many would prefer to continue to do what they have been trained and educated to do. Look for opportunities to challenge them with more complex and interesting work utilizing their skills. Find ways to recognize their contributions and increased expertise. For those who are upward-bound, keep an eye on the individual's career path:
    • Are his or her skills developing at the pace required to move forward when needed?
    • Have you and they identified the range of possible future opportunities? Remember, the best opportunities may not lie in a straight line upward.
    • Are you helping pave the way by creating opportunities for others in leadership to gain an understanding of their skills and potential?

Finally, look to your own PI. Which of these leadership mandates come easily to you? Which are more difficult? What are you doing to design your own work or team to meet the mandate in the ways that will be most successful for you?