Updating your assumptions about what motivates great talent will make building a great team easier and more fulfilling. Here are some ideas that will help.
Great Talent Is Motivated By More Than Money
My restaurant friend is struggling to hire and keep enough people to keep his place open.
I asked him, “Why should anyone work for you?”
“Because of the money,” he replied.
“Nope,” I said. “They can get the same money anywhere. Why should they work here?”
Agencies are fundamentally sales organizations, so it’s natural for agents to assume that money is all that counts, but it turns out it’s only one factor. In fact, many high performers don’t respond well to variable compensation. Understanding what you have to offer besides money is critical if you want to get better-than-average talent and keep them.
If you want great talent to want to work for you, but you can’t think of a reason why they should, it’s time to do some deep reflecting.
Homework: Make yourself answer the question, “Why should anyone work for me?”
Great Talent Wants Their Work To Matter
Sure, some people don’t care about their work. If they’re getting paid, they’re happy. But those people aren’t great talent and don’t last long.
Great talent intuitively knows that they’re putting a third of their life into your company and want it to count for something. Your job is to connect their efforts to meaningful results—to give their work purpose. Here are some questions to ponder:
How does their work help the company? The customers? The community? Their careers?
How can you elevate the meaningfulness of their job by giving them better tools, more autonomy, and greater responsibility?
Homework: Figure out how to make it about meaningful outcomes, not rudimentary checklists.
Great Talent Wants You To Focus On Their Merit
If you’re too obsessed with trivial metrics, checklists, rules, and how busy people look, you’re holding back your best talent.
You don’t just want their time and labor. You want their hearts and minds. You want the best they have to offer. When you force them to be cogs in your machine, you take away their incentive to give their best. What you get is compliance, not excellence.
If great talent isn’t allowed to be excellent, they’ll be discouraged and eventually quit.
Homework: Figure out how to recognize and reward merit, not just dutiful box-checking.
Great Talent Craves Freedom To Do Great Things
Every super-talented person in the workforce has experienced working for a no-talent supervisor who holds them back. It’s a soul-crushing grind.
Your best hires will want to become the subject matter experts in their jobs and be trusted to make things better. If you think you’re smarter than everyone in your organization combined, you either overestimate yourself or haven’t hired great talent yet.
Entrepreneurs have a lot at stake. As a result, they sometimes act as if nobody else can think and perform independently. But why wouldn’t you want everyone on your team to be self-directing? Imagine what that would do for your company!
Homework: Focus a ton of effort on making your people free and competent to act independently.
If you want to attract and keep great talent, you’ve got to offer them what they care about. Once the money is adequate, most great talent will start to want other things. This article is just a short list. There are countless others: Flexibility? Transparency? Security?
Talk to your people. Become a motivation expert. Figure out how to be the place where your best people will want to stay for a long time.
Need Some Help?
We’re obsessed with culture and talent. We’d be happy to speak to your agent-organized study group or event about attracting, hiring, and retaining great talent.