According to a Harvard Business Review study, fully one quarter of the highest-potential people in your company intend to jump ship within the year. I know times have changed, but people haven’t. So, what can you do to ensure that your rising stars (aka "A" players) don’t take off as soon as new opportunities begin to surface on the career horizon?
Here are the core components of a successful program for fostering emerging talent:
1. Manage emerging talent as an organizational asset. If this group has managed to keep the organization afloat during lean times, recognize them in whatever way you can. This includes training, development, new opportunities, and when possible, a differentiated salary structure.
2. Give them clear challenges that are well-matched to their abilities. Consciously place young leaders in situations that test their mettle and give them the rewards that take their skills and confidence to the next level.
3. Create individual development plans. Everyone likes to be recognized, and an individual development plan is the next best thing to a differentiated salary level. Providing both may be just what you need to win the loyalty of the most talented and competent employees before they disengage and start to surf for other opportunities.
4. Convey strategy and information personally. Holding one-on-one or small group meetings to convey organizational strategy to your entire team – and specifically your leaders - communicates that they are on the "inside" track.
Finally, my experience with fast growth companies has revealed the most compelling reason to integrate a successful training and development program: Team members work harder, smarter, and faster in an environment where good things happen to those who deserve them. In essence, a solid development program for emerging leaders boosts employee engagement across the board. Now, go grow your company!