In business, as in life, the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease. It’s not uncommon to see leaders spending all of their time fussing over their problem employees in an effort to get them up to snuff. 

But beware: low performers are energy vampires, and your other employees need attention too. The question that more leaders need to be asking is: who are my top performers that I should be paying attention to? 

It’s not all about money

Many years ago I hired a really talented woman into my organization. She was young and extremely skilled, so, as an incentive to commit to our company I gave her the opportunity to become a part owner. I thought I’d given her the moon: a demanding position, a chance to be part of an up-and-coming company and a generous financial bonus.

So imagine my surprise when, 18 months later, she left.

It took me a long time to understand that, although we’d given her a generous financial reward, money alone is rarely enough for employees who thrive on a sense of pride in their work and seek opportunities to grow personally and professionally. I may have fed her bank account, but I failed to care for her or nurture her as an individual or a professional. I believe that had I done that, she would not have left.

It was a blunder that cost the whole organization. She walked away with a lot of business, which really set us back. But it was an important lesson—top performers need attention too.

Tips for Retaining Your Top Employees

1. Identify high potentials or high performers. A good leader knows her up and comers. Who is ready to move up? More importantly, who could move up with a little extra guidance? Nurture that talent.

2. Provide coaching. Everyone needs guidance. With a little extra time and assistance from you, you may find that your employees are capable of more than you thought.

3. Provide feedback. Every employee needs it and don’t just wait until review time rolls around.

4. Provide development opportunities. Nothing engages employees like opportunities to really learn and take ownership of their own projects.

Of course, it’s important to provide guidance to your employees that may be losing their way. But the real bang for your buck lies with your top performers; keep them happy and your whole workforce will benefit.