Training new qualified staff can be costly, professional development expert Ray Hodge provides tips on how to attract, create and keep exceptional employees. 

Great employees are made up of two foundational elements – enthusiasm and teach-ability.

The former denotes a passionate individual ready to attack each challenge with vigour. The latter is the one who wants to develop and
progress; who is hungry to learn and who generally displays the trait of humility.

If you can find someone who has the third foundational element – highly-developed skills – then you they will be an exceptional employee
and you are onto a winner.

If you have the first two attributes, enthusiasm and teach-ability, and the skill levels are less than required, their rise to skill mastery will be much faster than those who don’t show those traits to begin with.

The following are my key tips to attracting, creating, and keeping exceptional employees:

1. Remember, like attracts like

If you have employees who absolutely love their place of work, odds are they will boast about it to their friends. In turn, you will have people calling to work with you who are of a similar nature.

It will also boost your brand in the community.

2. Provide clarity on your expectations of the team member

Be clear in the position description with roles, responsibilities and performance measures while seeking to maintain the stretch factor for
your people.

Successful people like to feel success so need to understand what they are reaching for and how that helps the overall business not just job by job.

3. Identify the traits of enthusiasm and teachability when recruiting

If someone has great technical abilities but lacks enthusiasm and teach-ability, there’s a good chance you’ll be helping them exit sooner rather than later.

Don’t hire them in the first place as they could also damage your brand.

4. Ensure ongoing feedback

Good employees want to know what they are doing well and where they can improve.

Feedback (outside of formal six or 12-month performance reviews) is incredibly important to foster high engagement and productivity.

Be sure to give praise where it’s due and informative criticism where it is needed.

Your employees want to know that their contribution is highly valued and exactly how they can improve.

5. Create a relational and fun culture, not just a do-your-job workplace

Provide an enjoyable environment where people can have some fun while achieving highly. This starts from the top down and must be appropriate for each environment. Some stress release is required.

6. Incentivisation

Reward commensurately (not necessarily financially) for performance achievement.

7. Help toxic employees to either become healthy or exit the organisation

Toxic employees, those who are negative, bullish or failing to perform, affect many areas within an organisation, including financial results, negative customer experiences, fellow workers, productivity and culture.

Some business owners and managers prefer to not deal with these people, hoping that the situation will correct itself and/or the toxic employee will leave.

I have never seen that happen. It’s much better to deal with these people upfront than let them linger in, and infect from their
current state.

Often these employees are not aware of their behaviour and discussing this openly with them, will help them grow and develop awareness.

8. Your team reflects your interest in people

Richard Branson summarises it best here: “Having a personality of caring about people is important. You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.”

Your best people will stay around longer if they are seen and treated as capable human beings rather than just as workers who complete tasks.

Talking to an employee recently they said: “I have learned to just do my job – nothing more, nothing less.” Digging a little deeper it was obvious that this employee had lost connection to his work, his professionalism and his desire to work with his team and the business
to create success.

I have met and worked with other team members throughout my career who are constantly improving; taking ownership of their roles, attempting new things, suggesting better ways of operating to their managers and so forth.

When I see these employees in action (and particularly a team made up of these types), I don’t have to look far to see that the leader is
one that nurtures his people for greatness.