It’s hard enough to find great employees. But to keep them? That’s even harder! Why is that? More importantly, how can you ensure you keep yours?

After telling her boss, “I’m ripping you off! You pay me to do forty hours of work every week, and I’m not doing forty hours of work,” Kristina was ready for the new challenges her boss promised. “I’m sending you to Wyoming, Florida, and Kentucky to help get them on track,” her boss, responded.

Though she earned a few more frequent flyer miles, none of her boss’s promises led to more challenging or fulfilling work. Nearly a year later, Kristina approached him again, making it clear that she needed more opportunities for growth. “I’m bored. Is there training I can take or more responsibility I can take on?” she asked. Talk about persistence, and wanting to work hard!

Kristina’s boss tried to keep her by once again, promising even greater opportunities. Nothing changed in the two years following Kristina’s original request for more challenging work except her commitment to the company. After eight years of dedication, Kristina finally contacted a headhunter.

Six months later, she landed the biggest opportunity of her career, and is now planning to move her family to another city despite the fact that she is right in the middle of a major kitchen renovation project! That’s how hungry she was for a challenge. Don’t let your team get to this point – do all you can to keep them!

While nearly all of us want to be challenged (provoked) to reach new levels of success (greatness), highly motivated people need to be challenged.

Perform these 3 actions to keep your best employees:

  1. Expose: Intentionally expose them to new experiences, such as board meetings, conferences, lunch meetings, and mentoring others. If you know their goals, you’ll know what types of experiences will aid them in their quest. Throwing curve balls their way, with the intention of helping them learn/grow, will almost always net you a positive result in the form of their deepened loyalty. The key: make sure they see your actions/suggestions as beneficial. Communication is critical if you want to keep your employees.
  2. Reflect: After being exposed to the new experience, directly ask your employee, “What did you learn from that experience that was beneficial to you as an individual and the team/company as a whole?” In fact, some leaders ask their employees to brief the team on what they learned. This is a great way to strengthen the bond between team members. As they share, pay attention to their body posture and listen intently to their words. It’s possible that you might hear a passion you’ve never heard from that person, and be able to use it for the benefit of your company goals. It’s such a great win/win.
  3. Act: When you hear their passions/interests, find a way to get them further exposure, and training, if possible. The key here is to act—don’t wait for the right opportunity to surface. Start feeding their interests right away, even if you cannot see an immediate benefit to your company/team. The return on your investment in their success will be far greater than you can imagine. Help them reach their greatness, and they’ll help you reach yours.

Over the years, I’ve heard many leaders say some form of the following:

“That’s a lot of work, time, and energy. I have a job to do too!”

This complaint makes perfect sense to me. It does take a fair amount of time, energy, and work to lead others, which is why so few do it. Of course, these are the few that get to keep the most dedicated, loyal, hard-working people on the planet on their teams.

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister