Jump to other news and events
LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

LeadingEdition: E-newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Hanging on to your most talented staff members

Demands on employees keep escalating and money for raises is limited. It is a combination that makes any Purdue leader nervous.

This is especially true when it comes to keeping the relatively few extremely talented people who you can least do without and who contribute the most to the University. To earn their role as talented employees, they have demonstrated unwavering commitment and dedication to creating value for other people. They direct, they inspire and lift, they initiate and innovate, and they want to make a difference in their workplace and their society.

If talented people like these work for you, you have accomplished one of the most important leadership skills: high impact hiring. The second most important leadership skill is keeping them. Here are some tips:

1. Treat all your talented people like your best customers and important users of your services. How often do you re-recruit your best customer, but never re-recruit your best employee? How often do you drop in and say thanks for contributing to Purdue?

2. Design jobs and assign tasks that appeal to initiative, innovation, change, and risk-taking. Always encourage what is next and what it will bring and not what exists and what it protects. Emphasize the importance of continuous improvement.

3. Provide training, development, and mentoring. Be a friend, not just a boss. Ask how you can help and then deliver. Help discover strengths and weaknesses. Jointly explore challenging and relevant advanced learning experiences.

4. Create a challenging and exciting environment. Show how ideas and action are inseparable. Explain how results relate to the University Strategic Plan.

5. Communicate candidly and honestly without causing fear of reprisal. Provide regular coaching and feedback. Grant trust. Ask what can be done to remedy or improve the situation, not who caused it.

6. Provide unassigned time to seed and cultivate ideas. Encourage research, exploration, and invention. Promote building cross-cultural exchange and debate.

7. Create special bonds. Encourage benchmarking visits to sister universities. Create social bonds with peers in departments across the University. Attend professional meetings.

For more information on this and other topics about leadership, see:


The Talent Era: Achieving a High Return on Talent, Subir Chowdhury, Financial Times/Prentice Hall, 2002.


High Impact Hiring, Joseph Rosse, Robert Levin, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1997.

- Al Knight
Assistant Director of Human Resource Services for Organization and Career Development

Go to LeadingEdition Home Page.

E-mail us.

Bullet Visit the LeadingEdition index of articles and past issues. 

LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.