So you have done all the right things and hired a couple superstars in your organization. They are young, getting good experience, the “up and comers” of your company. Now what?? You don’t have a management spot yet but you don’t want to lose them or stifle their enthusiasm. How to do you keep them engaged? And then once you do have a management spot open, how do you coach them to be successful? These are a couple topics we will explore in this article.
Keep them engaged
A fully engaged employee is not only more productive, but also more likely to stay employed with you, allowing you to invest in training and keep them around for future opportunities. So, here are several methods for keeping them engaged and maintaining their interests.
Offer new challenges: New, challenging projects are a prime way to keep up-and-coming employees engaged. Don’t let them get bored. As a new project comes up, give it to them. Help coach them through the project management stages to make them successful. Share your successes and failures on similar projects so they can learn from you. Of course, be open to their ideas. These may be projects such as planning your annual grower meeting, developing a new social media marketing plan, presenting a topic in front of a group of growers or other employees, or presenting a project to your board. It is important for your employee to be well known by your customers and other company employees — getting them in front of groups for presentations is a good way to accomplish this. It also provides them good experience they will need throughout their careers.
Practice Participatory Management: Get them involved in the daily challenges you face. Get their opinions. Delegate a few things to them. This is good for all of your staff, and will keep everyone engaged and feel like their contributions are important to the company and they are “in the loop.” You probably already have effective, productive and efficient staff meetings on a regular basis. If not, it is a good thing to start, especially with your key management team (department managers, supervisors, foremen, etc.). Include the up and comers in these meetings whenever possible. Use these meetings as a place to get feedback, share ideas and concerns and build a team. Be warned: It does take more time to manage this way, but the end result is a more unified, stronger team that will rally around you and the company and move it forward.
A great activity for a staff meeting or retreat is the “Twenty Answer Activity.” Ask your team a question facing your company, such as “How do we increase sales?” or “How do we improve our operations?” The requirement is to have each member answer with 20 different answers. Anyone can come up with three or four, but when forced to come with 20 answers, you will be surprised at how deep and creative the ideas will become. And the team will feel like they fully participated in reaching a solution or taking steps in the improvement of the topic.
Communicate events: This is important for all of your staff, but especially those whom you what to keep around for future management positions. Everyone wants to know what is going on and be part of company events. Consider a weekly email update from you as manager.
Keep pay up to par: Superstars are noticed by your competitors as well. The risk of them getting snatched up by “Brand X” is high. So keep your pay and benefit package up to par. Check with colleagues in the industry, salary surveys or job announcements from competitors. It is shown that for an employee to be enticed into changing employers, the new company has to pay about 10% more than the current one. Thus, if you keep your salaries as high as possible, there will be less chance of your key employee “jumping ship.”