The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Top Talent: How Do You Keep ‘Em?

First identify your top talent, then keep them!The task of retaining top talent is the responsibility of all team members. When creating a plan for retention of employees, step one is identify your top talent. The truth is, you don’t want everyone to stay. What you want are those team members that understand where you are going and what needs to be done to get there.  Without asking you a million questions and creating drama!

Employees who fit into the top talent category are not necessarily the people who have been around the longest, or have a relationship with the customer you think you can’t live without. They are the people who have the work ethic and institutional knowledge that would put your organization at a disadvantage if you lost them. Top talent are the people you want on your team in twenty years and in whom you are willing to invest the time and resources to get them where they need to be to serve the organization for the future.

All organizations should identify top talent as approximately 2-3% of the employee population. These are not necessarily people in management today, but the team members that you are counting on driving the business forward 20 years from today. They may never become management, but are still a critical component of your success. Remember, too many chiefs can be a problem – consider top talent across the organization by engaging those that will follow with precise and committed engagement.

I consider employees who are top talent to exhibit the following characteristics day in and day out:

  • Ambition
  • Performance
  • Engagement
  • Behavior
  • Potential
  • Talent

It is essential to actively engage your top talent and ensure you are providing opportunities for advancement, connection to the mission of the organization, and support for their personal growth and development. You don’t want a situation where you spend three years grooming top talent, only to find they have gone to your competitor because they offer better health insurance.  A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine provides 10 tips for retaining top talent.

In our toolkit, HR Hacks, we provide a worksheet that helps you identify the employees you would put into this important category. Be deliberate about your top talent, identify them, engage them and allow them to help you grow the organization so everyone can benefit.

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!
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