Employees With a Mission More Likely to Stay
I met him on the beach in Carmel, watching for a while as he threw a green tennis ball into the surf for his bounding black Lab. Looking like a moneyed member of the Ralph Lauren Young Hamptons set, he was clearly out there midday, midweek, because he could be.
After exchanging a few initial, probing pleasantries, he said this to me, as though we were already in the middle of this epic conversation: “I’m really disappointed with life. I thought I was destined for greatness. But I haven’t gotten there yet.”
He had made his pile, he said, on commissions on the sales of heartstoppingly big budget telecommunications systems for airports in the Pacific Rim. But what was the meaning in that, he asked both himself and me, not really expecting an answer. Now, like the Flying Dutchman, he was doomed to cruising the country between his homes on Cape Cod and San Francisco, looking, always looking, for something – anything – meaningful to help him transcend the feeling that he was living a hollow life of amassing wealth and instead springboard him into a life of making a difference.
It never dawned on him how meaningful it is to be able to provide to millions of people the services and safety that come with the packages he was selling. His company didn’t make that connection for him. Therefore, his company lost a top producer to the pursuit of meaning, when meaning was already there.
Here is some serious talent on the loose, craving a worthy portal to plug himself into. How many recruiters would love to meet a guy like him, when every new, but rare, job opening demands so much of employers to find the Super Match today? Today, when jobs are so scarce, high performers may not leave in fact, but they depart in spirit. So it’s up to you to keep them on the job (in every sense of that expression), engaged and producing. How do you do that? For some, talk meaning, purpose, mission. Only this time really mean it. This is the way you keep mission-critical talent.
The best mission-critical employees are the ones with missions of their own and who see precisely how their employer will serve that mission. Therefore, the most effective recruitment/retention programs would do well to abandon the childish enticements (or arrogant assumptions) and discover what really lies in the heart of their cubicled talent.
Get emotional buy-in from your best by discovering what flames burn within – and brand your employment opportunities accordingly. Then your employees will go to almost any extreme to help your organization realize its own mission.
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Martha I. Finney is the author of The Truth About Getting the Best From People, and a consultant specializing in employee engagement. For a free consultation on how you can build a vacation-friendly workplace culture, email Martha at Martha@marthafinney.com.