How to Identify and Keep Your Top Talent

One of the most important decisions a company can make is to acquire the right talent. Your employees can either be your greatest asset or your biggest liability, and maximizing this resource can give your company a remarkable competitive advantage.

This is why it is very important to constantly monitor employee progress and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. The idea of keeping tabs on everyone’s professional development and ensuring their contribution to organizational goals may seem like micromanaging employees, but it’s a necessary evil. Over time, you will be able to identify employees who can work without supervision and those who need extra supervision. In this article, we will discuss how to identify your top performers and how to keep them around.

When evaluating employees, it’s important to know what to look out for. What sets top performers apart from bottom performers? Here are some characteristics that make top talent stand out:

They are dedicated. This is the first telltale sign of a top performer. They have a dogged belief that quality is EVERYTHING; this always shines through their work. They have the ability to think fast on their feet and change strategies or attitudes as the situation calls for. Even when things get rough, they are always positive with the glass is half-full kind of mentality.

They know when and how to take initiative. A top performer is resourceful with the ability to take the lead on projects and manage people whenever the need arises.

 They desire growth. They constantly want to hear feedback whether it’s positive or negative. They look for new ways to improve themselves and their skills.


They are excellent communicators. Top performers display eloquence when relating with peers, superiors and subordinates; on the phone, in person and in emails.


They work with minimal supervision. They demonstrate the ability to manage their time as such, they do not need to be micromanaged. They are the kind of people who will stay late working extra hours if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

How to Keep Your Top Talent

Top performers are always aware of the value the they bring to the company. This usually gives them a vantage point whenever they are faced with multiple opportunities. Other employers aren’t oblivious either. They keep tabs on the assets you call top performers and constantly seek ways to poach them.  So how do you keep top performers around? What do you do to buy their loyalty and ensure they stay?


Give them some level of control. Since they are motivated and raring to go, most top performers enjoy the opportunity to take control and show you what they are made of. Their ability to work with minimal supervision makes it easy for them to be entrusted with huge tasks.


Hand them difficult tasks from time to time. It will let you see how they handle it and at the same time make work interesting for them.  They desire growth and see challenging tasks as opportunities to improve themselves.


Tell them your expectations. Make sure you share organizational goals with them and how they can contribute to the bigger picture. Top performers know when to take the initiative and can figure out innovative ways to help achieve those goals.


Give them a reason to trust you. If they don’t believe in you as a boss, they won’t be around for long. As excellent communicators, they can read between the lines and spot dodginess.


Let them know you see their efforts. Their dedicated nature makes them constantly go above and beyond. Show them you care about both their professional and personal well-being.


Don’t feed their egos. In as much as you need to appreciate your top performers, don’t over do it and make them get cocky.


Keep them in the know. Give them the opportunity to attend important meetings or strategic planning sessions.


Be sure they have everything they need to grow. For example tools, resources, equipment, education, and a work environment that is conducive to success.  If they are just starting their career, give them an experienced mentor to learn from. If they are more seasoned, ask them if they would like the opportunity to mentor someone new.


Reward their hard work. This will give them a confidence boost. The reward can be financial like a bonus or non-financial like some extra paid time off or a plaque of recognition.


Top performers are keepers and should be treated as such. Being able to detect a top performer early and keep them happy will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

Watch out for our next article from the Talent Series. In the sequel, we will be taking a look at how to manage underperforming talent.


Written by Genevieve Craig



Related articles:

What High Performers Want at Work

Shocking Insights on your ‘High-Performing’ Employees

High Performers and High-Potential Employees Are Not One in the Same