Great Leaders Attract and Retain Top Talent


If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it, you almost don’t have to manage them.

– Jack Welch

Hiring new employees can be a major investment for an organization. It costs money to advertise for the position, and to assess and select job candidates. It costs money to train the new hire. And it takes time for new hires to adjust to the organizational culture and policies which also has a cost. If a new employee leaves the organization, all investment is lost.

In order to save their organizations the cost and headache associated with hiring and losing talented employees, leaders need to be able to hire the right individuals and to keep these employees sufficiently happy to want to remain with the organization.

What Does it Mean to Attract and Retain Staff?

Attracting staff is the ability to hire and retain staff and keep turnover at an acceptable level. A leader who attract staff is skilled at selecting and hiring talented employees. In addition, they can keep these employees long-term. A leader who attracts staff generally has low turnover rates.

How to Assess Your Ability to Attract & Retain Top Talent?

In assessing your ability to attract and retain staff, consider the following:

  • Have I considered the traits an individual would need to be successful in this job?
  • Do I provide an accurate picture of this organization to potential candidates?
  • Am I using effective tools to help me hire the right person?
  • Do I provide a positive, empowering environment for my employees to work in?
  • Do I listen to, and address, the issues my employees have brought to my attention?
  • Am I effectively using my managerial skills, such as communication and conflict resolution, to encourage a positive climate within my organization?

How to Create a Talent Magnet

Start at the Beginning

Choosing the right person doesn’t start with a resume or interview – it begins in how you choose to recruit potential employees. Be mindful of how you advertise your open positions. Choose your target population and ensure your recruitment style will reach the attention of the right people. Keep in mind that research shows differences in candidates depending on where you choose to recruit – opening your job up to those outside your organization often results in a large candidate pool with diverse experiences and training. Asking internal employees to recommend possible candidates reduces this diversity, however, often results in quality new hires who are likely to remain with the organization longer.

Make Use of the Available Knowledge and Tools

Unlike some of the competencies required of leaders, leaders can make use of existing tools and measures to make themselves more effective at attracting, hiring, and retaining staff. For example, personality is an effective screening tool when hiring employees. Certain personality traits may be beneficial in specific industries, while others, such as conscientiousness, are seen in successful employees across positions. There are many measures that can quickly and accurately assess personality. Similarly, standardized forms exist to evaluate the performance of individuals in interviews. Using evidence-based tools to aid in selecting employees can greatly improve your chances of hiring the right individual.

Choose Employees Who Choose Your Organization

Remember, good fit is about more than the employee having the skills and traits you desire. A new employee also needs to feel comfortable and competent within the culture of your organization. When hiring a new individual, be realistic about the job they are applying for. Make sure you fill them in on the details of the environment they will work in, the expectations for their performance, and the general structure of their day-to-day work. This way, applicants can make informed decisions, and can self-select out of environments or organizations they would not thrive in. This leaves you with a pool of candidates ready and willing to not only perform their job, but to commit to the realities of your organization.

4 Ways to Attract & Retain Top Talent

The following steps can help you become better at attracting staff:

1. Ensure You Understand the Position to Be Filled

Before you can begin to search for someone to fill a role, you must understand what the role entails. What are the tasks someone in the job would be expected to perform? Is there a certain level of performance that is expected from employees? What types of education or experience is required to do well on the job? Will this new employee need any special or specific skills or abilities? Analyzing the job, and the traits someone needs to be successful on the job, can give you a place to start when looking for new employees. Tools exist online to help get you started.

2. Be Rigorous

When hiring a new individual, set a formal procedure for the selection process. Use the same criteria when assessing resumes, ask the same questions during interviews, and provide candidates with the same information about the open position. The only way to fairly evaluate who is best suited to a role is to ensure you have all the information from each candidate.

3. Use Motivational Tools to Retain Employees

First, being positive and friendly with employees can go a long way toward creating a supportive environment in which employees want to work. When employees can bring forward issues to their leaders, they can feel confident that their concerns are heard. Set goals that benefit both the employee and the organization. Employees who feel that the organization supports their development will feel motivated to stay.

Finally, provide recognition for employees who are hard-working or successful. Acknowledgement is a quick, easy, and cheap way to encourage employees in their current and future endeavours.

4. Provide Opportunities for Employees to Grow

Research has shown that employees tend to be most satisfied when they feel a sense of autonomy in their job. Where available, try to give employees the freedom to choose how to do their work. Giving employees control over their work and how they complete it can be a great way to motivate employees and increase their feelings of competence while ensuring they are happy working for you as a leader and for your organization in general.

Looking for More Ways to Attract & Retain Top Talent?

ANALYZE what’s important for a given position by visiting O*NET.
LEARN: How to Use Personality Tests and Structured Interviews to Hire the Best
READ: 10 Ways to Improve Employee Retention
DEVELOP: your ability to Attract & Retain Talent and other leadership skills by taking advantage of SIGMA’s Coaching Services.

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Contact SIGMA for coaching on developing your skills as a leader.

SIGMA Assessment Systems, Inc.
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Brittney Anderson

About the Author

Brittney Anderson, Ph.D.

Senior Consultant & Executive Coach

Brittney is a member of our coaching and consulting team. She brings her expertise in evidence-based practice to provide companies with leadership solutions that meet their needs. Primarily, Brittney helps her clients prepare for their future with succession planning and comprehensive leadership development programs. As an executive coach, she helps leaders hone their skills using a process-based approach to development.