Developing And Retaining Top Talent

Top Talent

We were joined by international authentic leadership expert, Dõv Baron, following the publication of his latest book, “Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent.” He was able to give us some insight into what it takes to attain and maintain top performers in today’s business world.

CLM: What is the difference between today’s workers and those of previous generations?

Baron: The difference between today’s workers and those of previous generations is a values one. We tend to look at the recession and world of business and think “that’s all behind us now.” It’s not! When you think about what came out of the global financial issue, among many other things, there was the Occupy Movement. What generation was dominantly involved? The answer is Generation Y … the millennials. Now, many of the millennial generation have been integrated into the business world, but they remain skeptical of baby boomer and Gen-X leaders.

CLM: What kind of problems does this disparity between generations present?

Baron: Millennials are not driven by the same things as boomers and X’ers were. Nonetheless, many boomer and X’er bosses think that throwing the same incentives at them will work and, as a result, they are leaving in droves.

CLM: What is the average cost of replacing top talent? Both financially and culturally?

Baron: You, as a leader, likely know that there is a high cost to replacing top talent. And, it’s more than just fiscal, although that is nothing to be sneezed at. The average cost of training and developing a team member is 1.5-2 times the average annual salary of that individual. This means that if this employee leaves within two years, there is no ROI. Additionally, the people who have been loyal are less inclined to trust a newer employee, feeling that the new employee will most likely leave. As a result the existing loyal employees choose not to invest in developing relationships that create a solid corporate culture.

CLM: What are the best ways for a business to attract top talent?

Baron: Firstly, you have to understand what they want. The world has changed and the talent has the upper hand now, so they get to choose. As stated earlier, the value system of today’s top talent is vastly different than the generations before. To attract top talent you must appeal to those value systems. This includes, but is not limited to, meaningful work. Top talent today want to feel and know that what they do has meaning and purpose. Secondly, most companies find their meaning in a bottom line. If that’s the case, top talent may be attracted to you for a short period of time so that they can take the training you give and apply it to more meaningful work.

CLM: Once a leader has top talent what can he or she do to ensure loyalty?

Baron: Think about the people who are your closest friends. These are people you know really well, and they know you really well. To ensure loyalty, you must become highly relational. You must find out who your people are, what matters to them, what they are willing to fight for, and what gets them out of bed on workdays and days off. When you think about your closest friends, you will realize that you know these things about them. You know the things that make them magnificent, but you also know their shadow, and yet you remain loyal to each other. This is the formula for ensuring loyalty; get to really know your people.

CLM: What are some indicators leaders can look for when top performers consider leaving?

Baron: Statistics show that more than 40 percent of your top talent are already looking for another position, something they consider better. How can you spot them? Unlike the generations before, who wanted to find a position and stay in it for 20-plus years, millennials love to learn. If you want to keep a millennial in a position because they are good, they are probably considering leaving already. Remember, this is the generation that grew up withextreme screen time; multitasking is a way of life for them. They are easily bored and need constant stimulus.

CLM: How far should a leader go to retain a top performer?

Baron: How far should a leader go to retain a top performer is a tricky question. Here’s what I mean. If you have a top performer who is completely at odds with the mission, purpose and vision of the organization, this is somebody you cannot afford to keep. High performing companies understand that you must choose culture and purpose over the diva.

CLM: Can you explain your concept of “Full Monty” storytelling?

Baron: In the movie, “The Full Monty,” a group of working class guys create their own version of Chippendales. Initially, these fellows are a miserable failure until they decide to go “Full Monty” and reveal it all. A “Full Monty” story does just that: reveals it all, including information traditional leaders have told us we should never reveal. However, when we do, like the guys in the movie, we find that we suddenly have raving fans.

CLM: Why should companies consider investing in a chief relationship officer?

Baron: Let me be clear, a CRO (Chief Relationship Officer), is not a position for an individual. It is something that every member of the c-suite takes on and encourages every VP and manager to do the same. No matter the size of your organization, being a CRO is something that future successful companies will embrace at all levels.

CLM: Can you explain the 4 C’s of a loyal corporate culture and the best steps to attain them?

Baron: The 4 C’s of loyal corporate culture are cooperation, collaboration, contribution and community. Cooperation and collaboration are the foundations of an intrapreneurial organization were silos are automatically removed. It allows different departments to come together to create solutions, and often new products that will increase the profit of the organization. Contribution and community are major forces when it comes to keeping millennials fiercely loyal. Contribution and community must be tied together. As an organization wanting fiercely loyal employees and customers, you will be reliant upon the dialogue that only takes place in an authentic community. In a social media world, your employees and customers are already having dialogue about your organization.

CLM: How does a focus on purpose over profit benefit both the employer and the employee?

Baron: As Guy Kawasaki, who was a chief evangelist for Apple, states, “the essence of entrepreneurship is, it’s about making meaning.” Meaning is purpose. Jim Collins, author of “Built to Last” took an in-depth look into 18 truly exceptional long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. He wanted to know what makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies. Among other things, they were all purpose-driven organizations. Companies that are purpose driven are not only long-lasting but highly profitable.

An employee, who has his or her purpose aligned with the organization’s purpose, is excited to get out of bed, contribute at work because they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, and as a result, are not only highly engaged, but also find their work deeply satisfying. Very often these are the employees who stay after their day is done because they want to contribute.

CLM: Briefly, what one attribute is most effective in attaining and maintaining top talent?

Baron: The single most important thing in retaining your top talent is developing a corporate culture that has momentum. Think about when a company starts. Quite often, there are extremely limited resources, yet because everyone is deeply bonded to each other and the mission or purpose of the company, everyone happily does far more than their official role requires. This is in its rawest form a momentum culture.


Dõv Baron was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the Top 100 Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference. As the leading authority on authentic leadership and the founder of “Full Monty Leadership,” he works with leaders in creating teams that become fiercely loyal. A bestselling author, Dõv’s latest book is “Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent.” Learn more at FullMontyLeadership.com.