Does your talent management strategy retain high performers?

Quiet, under-recognized employees.

High performers dealing with unexpected life events that have thrown their career off course.

The worker who makes up for a lack of experience with dedication and drive.

Valuable talent assets, such as the employees listed above, can easily be overlooked in even the most observant organization.

In some instances, it’s extremely easy to spot rising stars; the individual excels at sharing recent successes and challenges, or has a very vocal manager.

Other high performers may feel uncomfortable with self-promotion, be too preoccupied with other events to bring personal or professional concerns to management’s attention — or just incorrectly assume leadership is already aware they are high performers.

An oversight can have a considerable effect. If rising stars eventually begin to feel stagnant in their current role and/or think they’ve been looked over for a promotion, feelings of discontentment can arise. Disengagement, which can prompt frustrated high performers to look for a new job and potentially leave, often isn’t far behind.

Disengaged employees often exhibit a number of signs — arriving late, for example, according to the Chartered Management Institute, or frequently taking days off.  Some can be harder to identify, such as a drop in energy.

Whether you anticipate it or not, losing rising stars can be a crushing blow. Research has shown they’re typically a significant find; nearly half of the workforce has a less than 5 percent chance of being a top performer at the next level above their current position, according to the membership-based Corporate Leadership Council.

Fostering high performers, however, may help them stay. Eighty-six percent of organizations said they’ve seen significant to moderate returns on investments they’ve made in high-potential employees.

Wondering how your organization can retain its rising stars?  Consider implementing a talent management strategy with some of the following elements:

A high performers’ attitude assessment. Do they feel excited about their future with the organization — or uncertain? Do they think their current position is furthering their career path? After identifying high performers, a one-on-one approach from a manager can often yield the best answers to somewhat personal career-related questions.

You may want to frame the conversation as an official or unofficial employee review (even if it’s not time for the individuals’ annual one). Distributing a department- or enterprise-wide non-anonymous survey may also help. Some high performers will likely avoid telling you they’re unhappy; however, a few may view it as a proactive way to share their concerns with management.


Skill set strengthening. Offering training, tuition reimbursement or other educational opportunities helps your organization prevent knowledge gaps and gives rising stars a motivation to stay — at least throughout the duration of their certification or other program.

Employee influence. Modifying rising stars’ work to adapt to changing circumstances  — in their lives or within your organization ­— and encouraging them to solve problems creatively had the biggest impact on high performers’ potential, according to the Corporate Leadership Council. Work to frequently provide new experiences that challenge high performers.

Monitoring talent management strategy progress.  The Harvard Business Review recommends treating your top talent management strategy targets as rare growth assets. Think of rising stars as resources you can’t afford to lose; review the amount of attempts to engage them and obtain managerial feedback on your efforts’ effect on a regular basis.

For additional ideas on engaging high performers — and other employees — explore our recent posts on talent management strategy motivation methods, 10 inexpensive ways to improve your employee value proposition and how to disarm your most disengaged employees.

And for more resources, check out this video by Harvard Business Publishing as they outline the path to peak employee performance!