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How to Keep Your Star Performers Away from the Transfer Portal

By Perry Holley | February 8, 2023
How to Keep Your Star Performers Away from the Transfer Portal

In the past, if a college football player no longer wanted to play for the school where they were enrolled, they could enter a transfer process that required them to sit out a year and comply with other restrictions. Today, with the creation of the transfer portal, any student-athlete may declare their intentions to transfer to another school and begin playing immediately. This has caused the coaches (leaders) to rethink leadership.

From Sports to Business: How to Retain Your Top Talent

While this phenomenon is new for the college sports world, it has always been the case in business. At any time, for any reason, the top talent on your team could declare they were transferring their talents to another team. Business leaders have known, and coaches are learning that top talent has choices. The market is always looking for talent.

The Harvard Business Review reported that if your young stars are anything like those at the companies they’ve studied:

  • 25% intend to leave your employ within the year.
  • over 30% admit to not putting full effort into their job.
  • 20% believe their aspirations differ from what the organization has for them.
  • 40% have little confidence in their coworkers and even less confidence in the senior team.

Here are some actions you can take to fully engage and motivate your top talent and keep them contributing at a high level.

1. PROVIDE THEM WITH UPWARD MOBILITY AND VISIBILITY.

Not all top performers want to be promoted to the next level or “go into management,” but you need to know who does and doesn’t. Even if your top performer does not desire to climb the corporate ladder, most would welcome and appreciate upward visibility and access to important people in the company.

2. CHALLENGE THEM.

Top performers like a good challenge. They want to stretch and see what’s possible. Are you giving your A-players challenging, meaningful work? And a warning: don’t fall into the trap of giving your A-players the worst jobs because you know they can handle them.

3. MENTOR THEM AND ASK THEM TO MENTOR OTHERS.

Again, top performers want to grow and improve and appreciate mentorship from other successful people. When you provide mentorship, you are signaling that they matter. You can also offer opportunities for them to mentor or coach the younger people on the team.

4. GIVE THEM AUTHORITY.

Top performers do not need to be micromanaged. Instead, ensure they are empowered to do the work the way they think best. This could include allowing them to make decisions and direct business flow. When you empower and provide autonomy, you are saying you trust them.

5. PROVIDE THEM FEEDBACK TO HELP THEM IMPROVE.

You might think top performers don’t need or wouldn’t appreciate feedback, but you would be wrong. Author Shane Snow shared research that those considered experts in their work preferred negative feedback to positive. It helped them improve the most because criticism is generally more actionable than compliments. Top performers always look for ways to improve; your feedback signals that you care about them and want them to excel.

6. PROVE YOUR A-PLAYERS GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES TO STRETCH.

Are there areas in the business where you could ask your top performers to contribute that might be outside their comfort zone? These stretch opportunities often increase engagement and provide them additional visibility in the organization.

Do your top performers know they have a future in your organization and that you don’t take them for granted? Do they know you value them as people, not just performers? When you become intentional about connecting, guiding, and leading your top performers, they won’t think twice about entering the portal.

About Perry Holley

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership, as well as a published author. As co-host of the Maxwell Leadership Executive Leadership Podcast, he has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.

Interested in more corporate leadership development insights?

Every week, Maxwell Leadership’s staff of industry-leading growth and development professionals releases free leadership resources for the benefit of you and your team. Our Executive Leadership podcast offers expert insights on today’s most pressing corporate leadership topics, while our Maxwell Leadership podcast highlights transformational influence.

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