Staff Retention Strategies When Managing Change

Staff Retention Strategies When Managing Change

Do you find that just when you need your top performers to bring their A-game, they are actually packing to leave? 

During times of change, you will likely lose some of your most valued employees if you don’t have strategies in place to ensure they want to stay. Managers face challenging times during periods of change, new processes, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, meaning they often forget to take care of the star players in their teams as they prioritise juggling new concepts, keeping up production and staying within budgets. The lack of attention to recognising, valuing, and using key movers and shakers can find them losing to other organisations.

Why Retention Matters

Retaining top performers during change, those that make a valuable contribution to the success of your business, is even more critical as you direct your ship through potentially stormy waters of change. All change is disruptive, so losing your key players at such a crucial time is never a good thing. The effects will often ripple wider than just that one individual. The remaining workforce will be affected by the departure, or even rumblings it may happen, as see your lack of value as even more cause for them to be concerned.

Star players bring drive, intelligence, hard work and innovation, an asset you will find hard to lose. They know their value and have less tolerance for anything likely to interrupt its continued success. Star performers will worry that change could impact their ability to keep up their performance. Whilst they have been successful in the old way of working, they understand they have more to lose during periods of change than others. Appropriate staff retention strategies must be in place if you don’t want to face your most talented seeking reward elsewhere. Ensure you involve them and help them identify and carve a niche to continue to provide the same positive contribution in the new regime.

Keep your top performers on side and involved in working towards the change. Feeling overlooked can see them worried and using their energy to line up another job instead of making what is likely to be a positive contribution toward the change. A change management expert can identify and implement strategies to manage this side of the change initiative successfully.

Staff Retention Strategies When Managing Change

Formalise Development – Offer developmental training to key team members. Key players see value in career development and training opportunities such as the Agile PM Training Course, helping them identify a future during the path of change more readily. They have more reason to stay and contribute to positive change outcomes. Knowing their skills are recognised and valued is likely to make them feel rewarded and want to stay. Empower them to become an even more significant asset to your business.

Be clear and informative – High performers achieve because they question, they will be looking for hidden agendas and focus on any perceived negatives more readily than positives. Unanswered questions lead to fear that can see them looking to move elsewhere as a more secure option. Involving your key performers before everyone else, generally by individual consultation over a group approach, will likely elicit the best results. They will feel valued and have a chance to define their role in the change effort more readily.

Use them or lose them – With your star players in the loop, use them to aid in planning and to develop the change initiative’s path. Give them a purpose, responsibility, and a sense of belonging early in the process, so they want to stay as they feel recognised. Keep them interested and focussed on reaching successful change integration, rather than worried enough to head elsewhere. If they have served you well in the past, they will have ideas and their buy-in will be seen positively by the rest of the workforce, which is another valuable addition to bring about change management buy-in.

Approach resistance – Your star performers will feel they have the most to lose. They know they can do well with the status quo, yet a different system, leader or merger rival can leave them feeling vulnerable and wondering if they will be the same star in a different or bigger pond. This fear can induce resistance. Don’t let this resistance fester. It can be highly contagious and dangerous. Lack of support for change is the most significant cause of change implementation failure. Listen to and encourage the voicing of concerns and feedback, reassure them open and honestly. It is unlikely to be the actual change they fear. More likely, the impact change will have on their role, performance, and career path. If you can help your star players identify their place in the new order, they will see that career progression has not been forgotten, your company values their performance and recognises the impact that change brings. 

Be united – As before, we mentioned that star players would be looking for things that can go wrong and for gaps in the story. Leadership teams must sell the change vision, a future story that succeeds and unites around the change. If leaders do not operate on a united front, it will be the star players that notice. They may see the change as likely to fail or at least be a bumpy ride they can do without. Lack of leadership unity over change and proactivity to bring critical players onboard will significantly contribute to key staff looking for opportunities elsewhere. Communicating the business case for change in a way that sees them reach their conclusion willingly that it is good to be involved will ensure they feel compelled to help.

Testing and rollout – involving key performers in testing and rollout of the change have a two-fold benefit. Involving valuable employees in testing the new process or system before launch is a great way to discover inefficiencies and highlight glitches. This chance to be involved recognises the importance of their contribution and gives them a sense of involvement in the new regime. This can ease fears that the future will change in ways they do not feel happy with and provide a valuable resource to show and support others during rollout. 

Often key individuals have even more to give in times of change, a perfect opportunity for stars to shine. You could identify candidates for leadership or the ideal trainer for the rest of the team. By giving your top achievers reasons to stay through times of change and committing to their future, you can create a positive and supportive ethos across the entire workforce. 

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