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I get a lot of questions on staff retention strategies in my work with clients. Many of the topics I have written about previously actually support retentions strategies. In other words, when you’re hiring right, getting new staff started off right and have great management and leadership skills, you are already headed toward keeping good people. Of course, there is always more you can do, so here are some tips and strategies to help you build and keep a great team.

First, building a great team takes time (which is the same thing as saying it requires a lot of patience). One key to retention is to KNOW exactly what your best staff is thinking, or feeling, about their job in your practice at any given time. Now, a huge key to influencing others, very often overlooked, is asking effective questions. I call it “Getting Into the World of The Performer.” And of course, questions [and listening] are how you would do that.

Why don’t people do this automatically? Well, bosses often get so focused on how they’re perceived and their own credibility that asking a question might never even occur to them. They are more about ‘telling.’ The boss’ thinking, either consciously or unconsciously, can look like this: “I’m the boss around here. I know. You don’t. I will tell you!”

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To be most effective you should value the importance of asking effective questions even more. So, you’ll want to ‘interview’ those you want to keep, possibly three times a year or whenever you get a sense that something is not going well for them. I had a boss who was genius at noticing how focused I was every day. I would walk in the door in the morning and if he thought I was just the smallest bit ‘off,’ he would call me into his office and get me clear and focused. And as you know, that’s where all the juice is; clarity actually brings focus. Focus is power.

Here are 7 questions you will want to use in your retention efforts.

1. Are you doing the best work of your life? If not, what would enable you to do so? [This is the number one retention factor for top performers.]

2. Do you feel that your work makes a difference in the company, to the customer and to the world? Do your colleagues think you make a difference? [This is the number 2 key retention factor for top performers.]

3. Do you feel fully utilized in your current role? How else can we take advantage of your talents and interests?

4. What frustrates you in your current job? What restricts productivity and innovation?

5. What do you like best about your current role? What would you like more of? Where would you like to be in the organization two years from now?

6. What are the most challenging but exciting aspects of your current job situation? How can we further challenge you?

7. Have you recently been recognized or praised in a way that increased your commitment to the job? How can we further acknowledge you?

These 7 questions will go a long way to driving greater retention among your staff. Further, you can learn a tremendous amount about leadership and management just from these questions.

Remember, people choose to spend one third of their days in your business. Keep your expectations high [another critical topic of discussion], but make it a good experience for people, and they’ll be glad they met you!

Jay Henderson is the founder of Real Talent Hiring, a unique hiring and management development service for businesses who want to know exactly who to hire, what to expect, will they succeed, why, what motivates them and what will they be like in your environment.

Prior to starting Real Talent Hiring, Jay spent 5 years at Stephen R. Covey’s company, the Covey Leadership Center. He was a Regional Manager over 9 Central States in the U.S. teaching clients the well known First Things First program based on Covey’s book of the same title.

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