How to Retain Employees: 6 Tips for Keeping Talent

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "High Output Management" by Andrew S. Grove. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to retain employees? Why is it so important to retain top talent?

All good managers should know how to retain employees. Hiring is time-consuming, and by retaining talent you can build a strong company from within.

Keep reading to find out how to retain employees.

How to Retain Employees

The last managerial activity is talking people out of quitting. When a valuable employee decides to quit because she feels unappreciated, as a manager, you have failed. Your failure doesn’t necessarily end with the departure of that one employee. The actions of good employees affect your other employees as well—people who respect and identify with the departing employee will be affected by what happens to her and potentially become demotivated and consider leaving themselves.

Usually, someone will tell you that she wants to quit when you’re in the middle of something important. You should:

1. Immediately talk to her. This probably won’t be your first reaction—the conversation will be uncomfortable and your instinct will likely be to wrap up whatever important thing you were in the middle of first. However, if your employee is quitting because she thinks you don’t care about her, pushing off the conversation until later only reinforces her belief.

2. Ask her why she’s decided to quit and listen. She’s probably rehearsed this conversation, so let her get through her script without interrupting, and only ask questions at the end. Her script probably didn’t touch on her real reasons for quitting, so try to get her to reveal those by encouraging her to talk more.

3. Don’t argue or try to change her mind yet. At this early stage, all you should do is ask for some time to come up with a solution.

4. Go talk to your supervisor—this is a major problem you need help with. Your supervisor will also probably be in the middle of something important, but you need to make her help you. While your subordinate quitting is more destabilizing for you, her departure will affect the whole company.

5. Brainstorm ways to keep the employee at the company. This can include transferring her to a different department—while you’ll lose her, the company won’t. As a manager, it’s your (and all managers’) responsibility to keep valuable employees with the company, even if you don’t get to work with them yourself. 

6. Speak with the employee again and present your solution. She might counter by:

  • Suggesting you only made changes because she forced/blackmailed you into doing so. Tell her that everything you’re doing you would have done anyway—it had been an oversight not to do it sooner.
  • Reminding you of her acceptance of another company’s offer. Remind her that she’s made a commitment to your company too, and this commitment is stronger because she’s actually worked with people at your company.

Now that you have skills for how to retain employees, you’ll be able to apply your skills for retaining top talent.

How to Retain Employees: 6 Tips for Keeping Talent

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Andrew S. Grove's "High Output Management" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full High Output Management summary :

  • How to increase your managerial output and productivity
  • The 11 activities that offer a higher impact on output
  • How meetings can be used as a time management tool

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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