Salary and benefits aren’t enough to guarantee that your best and brightest creatives will remain engaged. Rypple’s Daniel Debow presents some best practices about what does motivate your top employees and how you can keep them from going to the competition.

Rock on

Rock on The Googleplex, Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View California, is legendary for its perks. Employees have access to unlimited free meals, haircuts, dry cleaning, massages, and even onsite medical care.

Yet earlier this year, when Google interviewed its employees about what they valued most at work, none of these extravagant benefits made the top of the list. Neither did salary. Instead, employees cited access to “even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”

Tangibles like salary and benefits aren’t enough to guarantee that your best and brightest creatives will remain engaged. Indeed, a recent landmark study by Arnold Worldwide of 3,000 employees and 500 executive leaders across a range of communication and advertising firms found that 30 percent of the advertising workforce say they’ll be gone from their job within 12 months.

Take Jill, an outstanding, experienced copy editor whom Agency X recently recruited at considerable expense from one of its chief rivals. Despite her outward success, she’s unsure how she’s performing, where she stands in the company, and how she fits into the overall goals of the agency. Her pay is great, she loves the Friday office happy hour, but over time, she finds herself feeling demotivated by the lack of communication, and checks out.

The loss of star performers like Jill doesn’t just leave a talent vacuum to fill; it also leaves a gaping hole in the bottom line. Indeed, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal calculated that it typically costs a company about half a position’s annual salary to recruit for that job ¾ and several times that if the position requires rare skills.

So how can your company keep its stars engaged? It comes down to creating a culture of communication — one in which employees know where the organization is headed, how they fit into these plans, and what’s expected of them. Here are a few key strategies your agency can employ to make this happen.

1. Create a culture of education

The average Starbucks barista gets more training in a year than the average employee in a communications company, according to the Arnold Worldwide study.

For employees, the single most important motivational factor was the ability to learn. Yet the study found a huge disconnect when it comes to perceptions about company training. While 90 percent of employees say they learn by figuring things out on their own, only 25 percent of executives think that employees learn independently.

To keep employees motivated, agencies need to build a culture of learning, where employees leave more enriched at the end of each day.

2. Provide regular, consistent feedback

Employee feedback is a critical part of the education process, and shouldn’t just be relegated to the annual review. To be effective, feedback needs to be specific and actionable. But that’s not always how it works.

In a study by Leadership IQ, 53 percent of employees said that when their boss praises excellent performance, the feedback does not provide enough useful information to help them repeat it. And 65 percent responded that when their boss criticizes poor performance, it doesn’t provide enough useful information to help them correct the issue.

Feedback, both positive and constructive, is most effective when given right away. Negative feedback given a month after the fact can lead to a passive-aggressive environment in which an employee feels powerless to act on the advice.

Think of it this way: no one wants to go a full day knowing their price tag was hanging from the back of their shirt, or the remnants of the salad they had for lunch were still stuck in their teeth. If an employee does something well, that activity should be encouraged. And if there’s room for improvement, they should be given the opportunity to learn for their next task.

3. Set time aside for weekly 1:1 meetings

At first, most employees and managers will cringe at the idea of yet another meeting. But instituting weekly 1:1 meetings can be the most important step you take to retaining your top performers.

In its quest to build a better boss, Google discovered that its worst managers weren’t consistent in their 1:1 meetings; some focused on meeting with people who were underperforming, while others met primarily with the top performers.

Consequently, Google implemented the best practice of 1:1 meetings with all team members.

These meetings can cover anything and everything from upcoming projects to the latest client news. With each week, discussions about goals, feedback, and concerns become a lot more natural unlike the awkward, starchy conversations during annual reviews. Over time, it becomes easier for both sides to raise potential problems and deal with them early on, before they fester into something destructive.

4. Manage the grunt work properly

Not every project is going to be awesome. That’s just the way business works. And chances are your employees understand this.

However, managers need to handle such projects responsibly and that means a few things. Boring projects should always be balanced with more stimulating work. Employees should always be told how any grunt works fits into the overall needs of the company (“If we do a good job on x, we’re hoping the client will give us their cool launch next year”). And specific parameters should always be set for the boring stuff ¾ meaning employees should always see light at the end of the tunnel.

5. Publicly acknowledge good work

All too often, managers see motivation in terms of financial compensation, but money is far from the only way to effectively reward talented employees. A 2009 survey by McKinsey Quarterly asked which incentives were the most effective in motivating employees. The top two responses were: “Praise and commendation from immediate manager” (67 percent), and “Attention from leaders” (62 percent).

Praise and commendation go a long way in making employees feel noticed and valued. And the impact of a pat on the back is multiplied when it’s done publicly. Through public commendations, employees not only feel the support and respect of their manager, but the entire organization as well (including top-level executives). Creating a framework for “social recognition” will encourage a culture of appreciation throughout your firm.

Keeping your rockstar employees on board has always been important, and don’t think that economic uncertainty will keep your employees around. Your company has worked hard to recruit some bright people and great talent; make sure an opaque work environment doesn’t drive them into the arms of your competition.

Learn more about how to keep remote workers happy and your team collaborating at GigaOM’s Net:Work event on December 8, 2011.

Daniel Debow is co-founder and co-CEO of Rypple, a social performance management platform.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Esparta

  1. Thank you for this piece. One thing I’ve learned is that you have to be willing to ask questions to get things done. I just finished a book by management consultant Greg Bustin called “That’s a Great Question.” He shares more than 500 great questions that effective leaders use in their organizati­ons. http://www.bustin­.com

  2. I think your last point is very important. In a world where everyone should be valued, and companies where everyone is assumed to do a good job, star workers are often neglected because bosses feel they shouldn’t always mention the same name. I feel that if someone does a good job, their names should be repeatedly mentioned. Not doing so makes these workers disgruntled.

  3. Koshy Samuel, MBA Saturday, October 15, 2011

    change the way we work and change the ways we deal with employees
    the new generation and world expect something different but all realtime and regular, consistent feedback

  4. Abel Pardo Fernández Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Very interesting post. At the end, all what people wants is simply to fell their minutes of glory, one kind word or knowing there’s someone covering the back.

  5. david k waltz Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Culture of education is interesting in conjunction with “strengths finder” and ” good to great” books, where they propose hiring for strength, character, values, etc. rather than focusing on skills, since these can be taught. The two together seem like the potential start of a virtuous cycle.

  6. Great post, I would add giving the employees a medium to show off their expertise. Maybe blog posts, a company twitter account, etc. It gives your employees power to express their opinion as well as show your customers that your company houses a group of talented HUMANs.

  7. Carolina Marin Sunday, October 16, 2011

    I believe 1:1 meetings are great but in the company that I work for, managers have to do it in their extra time, not as part of daily basis (company doesnt want to pay for that), so you can imagine that nobody do it, pretty sad :(

  8. Katie @ Women Magazine Monday, October 17, 2011

    Keeping someone happy all the time is a pain but giving constructive feedback is vital.

  9. Philippe Zitoun Monday, October 17, 2011

    Who pays for that? Easy to use Google as a reference. Make a survey at the shop close to your home.

    1. Everyone in the company pays when it doesn’t happen. For the shop close to home it may seem like a catch 22 but this stuff is real and powerful. It’s not easy until you are doing it and look back at how you struggled all those years, and lost all that time and money, without it – at the time believing that was the best you (everyone in the company) could do. Change is typically not easy and it has to start with the leaders at the top.

  10. This is all well and good but also assumes an equitable salary. However when you feel the financial pinch with the very basics of existence then salary is not just important, it’s an essential matter of survival. Salary may not be a motivator but lack of it is a debilitating de-motivator.
    At HP Technology Services, workers have not received increases in up to 7 years. So forget about free haircuts, we are taking about barely living.

    1. It appears that there is some truth in what you are saying and your views but sadly this has led to become a means of acceptance, not only to certain people or those in financial struggle but by the overall company view.
      If I may use HP Technology Services for example as you mentioned has not received increases in up to 7 years. Despite this statement being flawed and more on the lines of rarely give increases and if they do slight increases, nonetheless I believe that you are missing the point of this article which leads me to question.
      What does HP do for to obtain rockstar employees? Do they implement any of the above 5 mentioned ways (culture, feedback, 1on1 meetings, manage, acknowledgement)?
      Salary does have an impact and plays an importance but it does not just stop there, or does it for HP? There are alot of other ways that not only motivates employees but creates a pleasant environment and desire to work for a company which will automatically spark productivity.

      To conclude, I think that this is a great article and its vital that companies should review ways to deal and maintain happy employees.

    2. There is some truth in what you are saying and your views but sadly this has led to become a means of acceptance, not only to certain people and those in financial struggle, but by the overall company view.
      If I may use HP Technology Services for example as you mentioned has not received increases in up to 7 years. Despite this statement being flawed and more on the lines of rarely give increases and if they do slight increases, nonetheless I believe that you are missing the point of this article which leads me to question.
      What does HP do for to obtain rockstar employees? Do they implement any of the above 5 mentioned ways (culture, feedback, 1on1 meetings, manage, acknowledgement)?
      Salary does have an impact and plays an importance but it does not just stop there, or does it for HP? There are alot of other ways that not only motivates employees but creates a pleasant environment and desire to work for a company which will automatically spark effectiveness and productivity.

      To conclude, I think that this is a great article and companies should review ways to deal and maintain happy employees.

    3. I concur 100%. Survey results that say employees never mention salary at the top of their list of motivators must be flawed. Who wants to work for a low salary as long as the managers give you feedback? Pay freezes, salary cuts, benefit cuts,inequitable/favoritism-based bonuses, etc. are the top reasons people will flee their current employer as soon as they find a better gig.

      1. Bingo! Also I find the idea of 1:1 meetings weekly to be a bit much. Just tell me when I’m doing well, tell me when I need to improve but having regularly scheduled meetings feels too formal and review-like.

    4. Blame republicans for that.

      1. “Blame republicans for that”…shut up.

    5. Agreed, appreciation etc are definitely good and if you assume a good pay structure exists, these are the things you do to go above and beyond and keep those rock stars but readers need to understand that this stuff is indeed all AFTER you pay your employees a decent salary. Which, honestly, is itself a form of feedback and acknowledgement of where a person stands as an employee in the company. I’m not going to get into ceo pay because there’s reasonable/proper and then there’s just stupid. But not paying your star a decent wage? They’ll get the message they aren’t really that valued, no matter how many “Great work!”s they hear.

  11. The first point is vital in my opinion. Quite often, i heard people say “I’d like to join XX’s team because I can learn if i work in XX’s team”

  12. Of course employees of Google do not worry about pay – they are alway being compensated well. Drop the pay to 40k-60k and ask them again.

    I had most of these article points at an old job but the pay didn’t keep up, promised bonuses never happened, etc. it was hard to leave because of the people I was around and the way I was treated by them, but money talks….

  13. I like this post because it is exactly what star performers want. 1×1’s are absolutely key to getting hard work done as it improves 2 things that are key to project work (relationships and communication). Feedback is lacking everywhere I have previously worked (except my current employer) and the annual reviews are often focused on the last quarter. Want to build an awesome work environment – Master the art of 1 on 1’s, feedback, coaching and delegation and you will see your company change from the inside out. Want to find out how to do this pragmatically check out managertools.com (just attended a training and these guys are spot on). The only gotcha above is to note that ‘publicly acknowledge good work’ does not mean calling someone up before everyone (that is actually a de-motivator for some folks), but rather make sure they get credit through some other channel. But of course you only truly know what motivates your directs if you know them (which is what 1×1’s are about).

    1. Good post. I am agree with these five ways. I always been believed that the recognized work, feedback, getting in touch and the education, and many others, are crucial to raise the employees to the next level beside the company, it is something that project not only internally but to the external environment too. And all that effort could be called as good standing company or good reputation construction.

  14. Thanks, really core stuff, but couldn’t have said it better myself. My last 4 organisations were either coming out of this type of transition, entering it (latest), realised they needed it but couldn’t back themselves(previous) or smack in the middle of it.
    Its not easy to do as most of these are internal/back office (non-billing) initiatives and someone in finance will scream loud enough, often enough to sour of these initiatives, making it hard for the org to embrace it within the culture.
    Cultural change is +%$’n hard.

  15. Good call on the “public recognition” issue Rex. I know several hard core geek/creative types who eschew all forms of public recognition. They would rather just get a private adda-boy and a Think-Geek/Bestbuy gift card. :) This is why our managers (at our company) are now starting to collect employee profiles that include “preferred type of recognition” (among many other personality traits like Strengths, etc). Good topics.


  16. Good article. I work in IT, which is known for not being recognized, so we don’t expect pats on the back or a banner hanging over my cube saying that I did a good job. I agree with acknowledgement of a good job, just don’t personally feel that it needs to be a big deal. Team meetings, 1-on-1’s, and department acknoledgement is fine for me. =)

  17. Cheryl Friscia Monday, October 17, 2011

    This is an excellent article. Having come from corporate america, I wish that many other companies would adopt the strategies outlined here.

  18. Greg Holmberg Monday, October 17, 2011

    To understand motivation in creative people, read “Drive” by Dan Pink. http://amzn.com/1594484805 Intrinsic motivation comes down to three things: autonomy, mastery, purpose. http://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc

  19. Interesting article

  20. Accuracy of feedback is also important. while working at a large discount brokerage, we had an IT SVP who was very free and public with his priase. But it frequently went to a person who he had brought in from his previous company. And who the rest of the technical staff doubted could do anything more technical than take an IBM white papaer and create a new cover sheet with his name on it.

    Praising those who are NOT doing a good job is far more damaging to morale than simply failing to praise those who are doing a good job.

  21. Great piece, thanks for sharing. Beautifully presented. “Manage the grunt work properly” is perhaps the most overlooked of the 5 employee engagement strategies you highlight. Never under estimate the importance of ensuring that work has value, however mundane some tasks may seem.

  22. Keeping rockstars and making other employees rockstars is as simple as listening. Listen to what the employee needs and wants, explain that you can get them that if they get the company what it needs. When they perform reward them. Then listen again.

  23. Here’s an idea: stop calling something as infantile as “rockstars” and maybe they won’t trash the furniture and urinate from the balcony.

  24. I turned down a $10k/yr raise offer from a competitor because my current boss does all the things mentioned in this article.

  25. Very interesting and timely article. I suppose, had my current boss practiced some of the suggestions in it, I would not be leaving at the end of next week and going to a competing company that sought me out and made me an offer I could not refuse. My current boss (owner of the company I work for) has now offered me almost everything I was asking for (my future employer exceeded it). It’s so interesting to find out how much $$$ and perks you truly are worth, only when you hand in your resignation.

  26. #5 “Praise and commendation go a long way…” – this is very true, and the opposite behavior from superiors can be as detrimental as a commendation can be helpful. If a group leader or manager takes credit for his reports’ hard work, he/she will erode the group’s confidence and sense of value. I’ve worked for two managers who (driven by a big-company culture that rewarded self-promotion) constantly used “I” and “my” in reference to the team’s responsibilities and achievements, rather than “we” and “our”. We’d leave every meeting, design review or status update with a sense that our efforts were disappearing into a recognitionless vacuum.

    Even when confronted about his choice of words, one of these managers defended it as “taking ownership” of problems. I left the company not long after.

  27. Great article and I couldn’t agree more. Public praise of individual and team efforts have been my best tool for building healthy teams. Praise for non-project work, such as superior customer support, must always be part of the mix. My favorite way to reinforce this is to have the team members who helped get a project done stand. When those in support roles don’t stand, I ask one of the team members what would have happen if the support people hadn’t kept the costumers happy. The answer is invariably one of the project team would have been pulled from the project. When I get the whole team standing, I use the old line “he also serves who keep the home fires burning” to reinforce the point.

    When it comes to needed improvement, I use guidance from my grandfather. He always said “when someone needs their rear kicked, it’s best to use their own foot”. This means making it clear to the person how their poor performance has hurt the team, the project, and the company as a whole can make then examine their own performance more effectively, than just explaining the poor performance alone.

  28. Love the education point. I’m currently trying to convince my leadership to invest in more conferences and less consultants. I think it’s of greater value to send our people out to learn rather than bring someone in to teach.

  29. Managing the grunt work by referring to a brighter future will not do if the big future prospects never come true… Worse if a pattern of unfulfilled promises becomes visible – then this solution is more than deterring.

  30. Nice post. This is good advice for keeping rock star employees and for nurturing other employees who might become rock stars if they felt properly engaged.

  31. What a great article! It goes to highlight that the American-owned company that I work for in the UK do exactly the opposite of this. Morale is scraping along the bottom, there is zero loyalty and all we seem to do is survive from day to day…

  32. Very good points.
    Only reservation is on weekly one on one.
    This is based on the size of your team.
    If it’s less than 10, you might be able to do weekly, for larger team – make it monthly.

  33. This is the real thing which an employee is looking for from his management, Good post.

  34. thanks for advice

  35. Sudhanshu Berry Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Interesting article

  36. We all appreciate communication is key but its not always that simple. What starts out as good intentions from both sides often slips into the abyss sometimes through no fault of either party.

    Leader led communication and feedback facilities are often key to a much happier working environment. Peer review and information sharing is also as valuable. Our experience of working with many different groups often comes back to the same challenges of motivation and Incentivisation.

    In a world of technology and access to information proving learning and training to improve your workforce is not difficult, the challenge is to force participation. This is an area we have worked in more many years and have learned there are no fixed solutions and each audience within a business is different.

    Where we have found synergies is within the need to realise the potential of your people, recognise what needs to be done to achieve your goals and reward those that fully participate. A reward however small given publicly is infectious and before you realise it everyone wants to know how to be a part of it.

  37. Does it for cash Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Okay, maybe it is a generational thing, but for me, praise without money is empty and useless. I am a professional–I set standards for myself that are higher than the company expects and I expect to meet them. Empty pats on the head are the equivalent to saying “Good Dog!” I do this for a living. Acknowledge my good work with money!!!!

    1. True. Money talks and without money.. powerless!? So money is a drive for most or some people but sooner or later one will realise that theres more to it and that money cannot buy people in certain perspectives or may also come accross as cheap. Are people willing to compromise money for anything else?
      Setting self standards is great!

  38. I have seen these principles repeated over and over in many books, blogs, articles, etc in great detail and in brief.
    I agree they are relevant for modern society, however I’ve concluded that MAJORITY of people in leadership positions are NOT cruising the bookstore searching for books on improving management skills. Lack of time or desire? Don’t know.
    Even so, to consistently implement these requires a certain type of character. Just like many things we all know what we “should do” but don’t (e.g. exercise, eat healthy, mammograms, reduce debt, vote, etc).

  39. I have read a article about how to hire good employee( developer, actually). Basically it says you don’t really find good ones from the market, because they tend not to switch job often. So better treat the top performer good, you can’t afford to lose them.

  40. Every few years my division starts doing all of these things and it always feels like somebody got a list of 5 things they should do and they started doing them. Star employees want to achieve greatness. Giving them that opportunity is the key. The pat on the back I get from my clients is worth far more than one from my manager. Having a 1 on 1 with a boss who is on the other side of the country, who I have met only once is mainly just a distraction. Training might be nice; but I think an annual conference is an even better motivator. My distributed team never gets together. The isolation that comes from that would be the main reason I would loose a connection to my company.

  41. Doris Pavlichek Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    This is an important lesson for companies. I experienced the early IPOs when everything was free and employees came into a game-like structure at work, taking breaks to play foosball. But more important now is that companies give us the chance to grow and learn – not idle away free time.

  42. Doris Pavlichek Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Employers should have learned this lesson in the “gay 90s” when everyone was job hopping despite having pinball machines and foosball tables in the break room, massage chairs and meditations rooms on the premises, and free dinners/happy hours/beverages. It’s not about what you give us materially; it’s about what you give us to allow us to grow as professionals and human beings.

  43. For rock star *engineers*:
    1. Swag. Never underestimate what you can get an engineer to do for another $12 T-shirt. Or how you can divide a group of six-figure-salaried adults by only giving one to half of them. No lie.
    2. Candy.
    3. Beverages. Caffeine, sugar, and an occasional dose of alcohol.
    4. A social life. Make socializing an intentional part of your company culture. Friends work better together than strangers.
    Common denominators: they’re all basically free and they all send the message that you’re thinking about the stuff that engineers really care about once they’ve cashed their paycheck (or maybe before…).

  44. rock star employee? sounds like some thing from a fictional novel. You want to keep people happy give them money! At the end of the day rock star or not every one needs to eat, pay rent, by life’s Necessities. Amen.

  45. An odd title given the content of the article–in fact, the title seems to violate the premise. They should have titled “How to keep your employees happy” or “How to keep all of your employees, who are all rockstars, happy.”

  46. The problem is, when you are a small company, that you don’t have the flexibility that big companies have.
    When we start a task we must finish it and are unable to ‘pass it on’ to someone else. http://www.seo-extreme.org

  47. One point that I find missing, interestingly, is growth. All employees – and not just the stars – want to be recognised and appreciated. And as so many people have commented already, the money needs to be seen as being fair. However, even if these things work out, being in a job which offers no growth prospects is often a strong motivator to want to leave. Companies too often fall into the trap of assuming that growth means managing more people. But growth as an expert in ones field of specialisation is also equally rewarding. I find it strange that offering growth (or not) was not mentioned as a key motivation for employees.

  48. Agree… all this is possible when we have “development” approach instead of “appraisal”….to conduct.

  49. How about underpayment & lack of appreciation?

  50. All these perks are good, but I would rather have a decent paycheck. Give me enough money, and I can take care of the rest. The problem is most places I’ve worked just try to give enough perks to placate everyone instead of paying a decent wage. They say let’s spend $1000 and take everyone out to lunch! That way they make a big bonus because they have kept costs low. So I really hate these articles. I’m not a baby. I don’t need someone to hold my hand and give me one on one meetings. I’m not proud. I don’t need some dumb award or praise. What I need is to be able to buy a car when my old one breaks down! Or to buy a house to live in! Or to have enough money to fix that house when something breaks! Or go on a vacation because I’m tired and stressed out! Perks? Who needs perks when you struggle with the bills? So all you CEOs and VPs don’t even look at this article unless you are paying your people well. All of my energy, intelligence, and creativity are all going toward getting me out of my current job. You want me to focus everything on your company? Show me the money!

  51. Money would never comes up in any survey, either its a public nor private survey, its just too humiliating, even to himself. But surely its always the number one reason, at least its the ultimate kpi. It never goes alone of course, thats why your 5 reasons fit as its couple. Batman and Robin case.

  52. This article suggests the scientific method in order to support it’s conclusions. I question the accuracy of both.
    The stats are limited and skewed. The conclusions are psychologically unsound.
    This stuff is just part of the ongoing attempt to keep the money out of the hands of the productive.

  53. There are some risks to mentioning good work in public. If you leave out some people that feel that they should have been acknowledged as well they will feel much more unhappy than if you had praised no one. So you must be careful.

  54. Whats with the image background? makes an article that I would have liked to have read impossible with the webworkerdaily image covering the txt :(

  55. Great article and spot on. Only criticism is it shouldn’t emphasize retaining only “rock star” employees. This sort of stuff should be for all employees (which it seems to be at Google and other good employers) and, as a result, may create more rock star employees.

    A good companion piece is Steve Job’s philosophy that the hierarchy of ideas is independent of the hierarchy of management. See Terry Gross interview: “…, but it had a few big differences from other corporate lifestyles I’d seen. The first one was a real belief that there wasn’t a hierarchy of ideas that mapped into the hierarchy of the organization. In other words: great ideas could come from anywhere. …” and, from http://thesmallwave.com/ideas-not-hierarchy-on-steve-jobs-supposedly:

    “Jobs: Oh no I wish I did. No, you see you can’t. If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to, you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don’t stay.”

  56. Christophe Nicolas Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Being coached, trained and trusted to create impact, and being recognized for it!

    As simple as that, but often not in line with company internal politics…

  57. In my dept my manager treats her employees as if they are 5 yrs old. She gets mad if you don’t look her in the eye when she is talking to you and makes comments such as “when your manager asks you something, you need to respond.” That comment was in response to a meeting we had where she asked if any one had a company anniversary that month. I did, but to not make a big deal of it, I didn’t respond. Later she found out and made the above referenced comment. Managers can not treat adult employees like children or they will find work elsewhere. In fact, because of my manager’s constant belittling, I turned in my resignation yesterday.

  58. Jeremy W ヽ(`Д´)ノ Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Step 1: Stop thinking about them like rockstars.

  59. fººfººhaircut Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Pork ‘n beans for dinner again? That’s OK, I’m a Rockstar @work.

  60. The true rockstars are motivated by high visibility challenging projects. The money takes care of itself. If you don’t compensate your best, your competitors will. Telling someone they are important goes a long way too.

    Right now, if your talent starts hitting the streets (in tech) they’re gone. I get 3+ calls a week on a resume I loaded to job boards 8 months ago.

  61. I work in IT.
    Leave me the F alone. Give me the raise the raise i deserve based on my performance. Take your 1 on 1 and stuff it. I dont want to talk to some one who is not involved with the envirionment. Take your employee self evaluation and stuff them too. As a manager do your job and manage and pay attention to who is doing the work. Do not foist your job on us. If I have to evaluate myself Im a ton harder on myself than you will ever be. Did I do my job>? Did I do my job WELL? Did I perform better than the other people in the group? If so i deserve a raise. Stop judging me on my opinion. Do not tell me i need a day off infact give me the money for the days off that I do not use. Stop denying me pay saying my benifits cover for it. I dont need time off but I could use that extra 2 grand a year.

  62. Numerous studies have shown the top motivators to be these things. Money is actually 6th. But definitely 1st on the demotivators. A pay cut or no pay raises (pay cut by inflation) definitely demotivates. I left my old job and took a pay cut not because my supervisor didn’t do these things, but because his boss who really ran the show was the antithesis of them. All this guy would do is threaten. Firing, withholding pay, etc. I was there so long it’s difficult to accept my new boss who is laid back but dedicated, friendly, and a positive motivator. But I’m looking forward to learning how.

  63. You missed rewards and promotions…. My manager do pretty much all these things. But in the end, I’m not getting promoted any faster (yes I consider myself a rockstar at least in my team). This is frustrating and I will be looking for a new job soon.

  64. The point of “work” in the 21st century is to create an excuse to give you a salary so you will buy stuff.

  65. For starters, you could pay them more? That seems like the most obvious answer for me.

  66. Samantha Garter Thursday, October 20, 2011

    On each of their five-year anniversaries of employment, people at the firm where I work get a writeup from the Board and a small bonus. Each five years they work, it happens again. Not a big deal. Every year, my boss has asked me to help her write the letter and the little release that the Board puts into the company newsletter. This year as usual, my boss had me help her. I was not in the list somehow. I was surprised to see how it stung. I would never have expected to feel so bad about something so minor. I mentioned it to HR, who basically blew me off. The day they held the lunch to pass out the awards and the small bonus checks and everyone cheered, it really, really pissed me off. That was the day my motivation permanently died. Right now, I’m actively seeking another job. Dumb, you say? I would have said so so. But I guess human nature applies to me too.

  67. A few thoughts.

    It is hard to disagree with apple pie, the flag, and motherhood, and I don’t. Google has institutionalized in my mind basically the right actions – ones that I would consider simply components in the normal toolkit of a good engineering or technology manager, especially one engaged in a creative new product development effort. If you want to make a “rock-star” caliber engineer (or other creative and effective professional) happy (and most effective), I have always thought the most important thing to remember is that such folks are almost always self-actualizing. Assuming a competitive salary and reasonable working conditions are givens, all you have to do is give them the opportunity to do a good job and let them know you know they are doing it. The biggest challenge with the really, really, good ones is making sure that most of the time the good work which gets done includes that which is essential to the organization. If you are going to make them really love their job, at least some of it will not be,

    But managing in this way is not always easy, not because of the “rock star”, but because big organizations to often have a big enough disconnect between executive perceptions and facts on the ground to render doing good and satisfying work impossible, especially when hamstrung by dysfunctional team members. Delbert is so often so very funny because it is eerily true to real life at lots of places. Thrust into such an environment, usually as an outsider brought in to “rescue” a project (and given that you can’t start out firing a VP or two), the best management way to make life better for a “rock star” (or reasonable facsimile thereof) and get a project back on track is to quickly identify and get rid of the weakest team member. The “weakest member” in not necessarily the one of lowest technical ability; often he or she is simply the one with greatest ability or inclination to disrupt. Often, that person is someone a VP thinks is a “rock star.”

    In creative effort, group chemistry really really matters. Certainly I have never been able to control or modify group chemistry using any other tool than controlling who its are.

    Which causes me to wonder how universal a prescription representative of best practices at Google might be. We should not forget that the average Jane or Joe at Google has enough raw talent to rate as rock star elsewhere. And lesser mortals simply don’t get hired at Google (which is probably fortunate for all concerned). Much of what really works at Google may be emergent. For example, Harvard is an exceptional place to get an undergraduate education not because the faculty are more talented teachers than anywhere else, but because student peers one hangs out with are a creme de la creme present in undiluted form few other places. Most Harvard graduates would come out pretty well educated if their only graduation requirement was to live together in Cambridge for four years.

    Google I think also faces some rather special circumstance in being a leader in hiring extreme talent over necessarily experience. Some of Google’s emphasis upon “education” probably is derivative. As a practice, it clearly has worked well for Google but elsewhere would create huge conflicts with established organizational culture. For example, certainly 30 or more years ago HP was an environment that cultivated development of the engineer’s engineer fully aware of all stages in a product life cycle. But this came with the price of a methodological gradualism in assignments to develop an engineer fresh from school in the HP tradition that I suspect most at Google would find stifling. Now maybe vestiges of this culture is a key factor in HP’s struggle today. struggling.

  68. Feedback is most important as it is unique and tailored.

  69. It’s easy to gripe about the costs involved. How much money do you think you lose when an employee is demotivated. Get on board or lose your gifted and talented – simple as that!

  70. Good one; thanks for sharing this. While all 5 points are quite good, what’s striking is the time that a leader must spend for ‘Weekly 1:1′; it’s demanding maintaining that discipline, but it’s proven worth…

  71. Freedom to speak and ability of the manager whom one report to listen and involve in the strategy for the compamy and role of each individual,Besides Competitive salary and other benefits.

  72. Freedom to speak and involvement of people in the strategy of the company and defined role of each individual with competitive salary and benefits can engage employees even rock stars.

  73. Salary or appreciation for work done has always been at crux for retention of star employees, Its not what is more important as both are important the question should be what percentage of both to be used to get the right balance to retain key employee, The article when it explores at great length ways to retain employee it has not taken into consideration the world events at large which definitely affect the two criteria’s at different percentile. Example when economy is down giving an increase in salary would have better impact in retaining a star employee then just appreciation. That is another variable impacting success recipe to retain star employee.

  74. Wow! great article, good value….many thanks

  75. As a 30 year veteran of firmware development, who has worked at 3 multi-national companies you have definitely heard of, I have to point out that what tickles the top 5% “Rock Stars” is NOT what excites the next 65$ of us on the next couple of tiers down. What excites us “normal” developers is (a) Salary and (b) Management/Leaders who will stop outsourcing jobs overseas and (c) Management/Leaders who know the processes (or lack thereof!) within their own departments. Too often, perhaps especially in firmware, Manager/Leaders are neither because they do not understand the tech or the processes used to develop the tech under their noses. Therefore, (for example) 1-on-1 meetings are superficial and irrelevant when the Manager/Leaders are mere neither. One last item (d) too often so-called Manager/Leaders are primarily focused on impressing their own boss, instead of activity coaching the reports under them. You top CEO and Director types need to stop promoting Yes-Men who fawn over you, and start finding/hiring/promoting true Leader/Coaches who proactively connect with us “regular” employee/stakeholders instead.

  76. WOW, You’ve described my current supervisor! I’d walk on hot coals if he asked me to. I Love going to work every day! My commute is 1+ hours each way but that doesn’t matter because I work with a great group of people. The money doesn’t really matter.

    My previous supervisor was the opposite, I adjusted my work schedule so I would see him as little as possible. The money is the only reason I stayed.

  77. In the end, it is about making people feel valued and their jobs relevant.

    Employers and supervisors mistakenly believe that “pay and perks” are substitutes for applying good management techniques. In general terms, all that ends up doing is bankrupting a company full of grumpy, disloyal, dissatisfied, exceptional people with healthy bank accounts.

  78. I would remove the term “Rock Star” from both the title and the content of the article. As a whole the presentation is correct, but these methods needs to be applied across all members of a company, not just “rock stars”. Even Google requires *all* team members have 1 on 1 meetings.

    team members that excel, certainly should be rewarded. That reward should be more set as an example of what can be provided for work beyond the norm. Also, today’s technology allows for a more flexible environment within many industries. While a company may not be able to provide a raise, simple allowing home office or telecommute a few days a week can save a household money (in gas, food, and time). When work environments are similar it is easier to walk from one cube to the next, one office to the next. When an employee has to consider giving up flexibility in work place, the motivation may be stronger for productivity, support, and longevity in the job. It is time we unlock the shackles of the industrial age and start to work smarter at all levels.

  79. Pietro Polsinelli Friday, October 21, 2011

    To facilitate communication and reaching consensual change you could all try “Your Change Manifesto” http://yourchangemanifesto.com and get feedback across the organization

  80. I left my previous job because after 2 years of working for the company, I was yet to get a proper 1:1 with my manager. Every time I had asked for one, he said “we’ll do it soon”, until he said “you’ll have to be more patient than this”.

    Thank you boss, but I’m happy where I am now. I get a bi-weekly 1:1, my manager is available at any time to address any of my concerns, a concern for any of my customers, and we regularly engage in career development plan. Of course there’s an added bonus of better package and health coverage, but that wouldn’t keep me completely satisfied.

  81. Also after reading some comments I realized how important it is for the company to have a culture of this sort. It has to take a top-down approach. I was chatting with a friend of mine who said his CEO doesn’t believe in work-life balance. Talk about a (de)motivator to continue to work in a company like that. Compare that with my current CEO Mark Benioff, who after the end of an incredible Dreamforce conference this year sent an email to all saying “you’ve all worked hard, now re-energize and give your family some time”. The fact that a CEO goes out to say things like that it just gives you an amazing feeling about the company you work for.

  82. Great article. Managers play a key role in retaining talent in an organization. Taking an active interest in and supporting the development of employees creates more loyalty than salary alone.

  83. Josue Briseno Friday, October 21, 2011

    Change is the key element that can make organizations different. Organizations that keep moving and have the ability to be flexible and easily adapt can assure that will success.

  84. The culture of education and the culture of learning is paramount. Learning is academic and also a state of mind, learning from your customers, learning from the market, learning from each others’ experiences, and a continuous pursuit of education is the best way I’ve seen to earn trust and respect. It is difficult for people, particularly in upper management, to ask questions for fear of seeming vulnerable. In reality, you are approachable and your team can make decisions with more objectivity.

  85. Josue Briseño Friday, October 21, 2011

    The Change factor, is a key point in any organization, the more they keep moving the more success. This is a worldwide constant element.


  87. Poor leaders will pick out the points in this article they do well. Mediocre leaders will save the arcticle. Good leaders will challenge where they may need work and great leaders write these articles.

  88. 1. Create a culture of education: You were talking about “rockstar” employees, were you not? Rockstar employees very frequently are self-starters and self-learners. It’s the person who spends the day doing the minimum and staring at the cubical wall that probably could benefit from some in-house training.

    2. Provide regular, consistent feedback: For rockstar employees, keep it positive. If something was done incorrectly or not in the best manner, couch the feedback positively. Better yet, if you can bridge the gap such that you each consider the other a friend, then there is likely to be a positive spin and a collaborative sense to any discussion.

    3. Set time aside for weekly 1:1 meetings: Wrong. Your rockstar employee is kicking booty and taking names. You’ve now put an arbitrary meeting on her calendar that, if she even takes note of it, will cause her to sigh and roll her eyes. Much better approach is meet when necessary and relevant – even if that might mean 8 meetings in one day if there’s a fire to fight.

    4. Manage the grunt work properly: Absolutely – keep the grunt tasks miles away from your rockstar employee. No quicker way to lose him than to have him muttering to his best bud at work: “why are they paying me this $$ to friggin’ do this stuff”??

    5. Publicly acknowledge good work: Maybe – if, and only if, that particular rockstar is a people/social type person that likes a spotlight in that manner. Some of your rockstars are most decidedly NOT that type – their constant woodshedding alone at all hours – and the fact that they like to do that – is what made them rockstars in the first place. They may not want any words, awards or ceremony – just yet another hike in their pay will do quite nicely.

  89. I generally agree with some of these strategies, but here are some of my own caveats.

    Not all of us enjoy public recognition. It makes introverts feel awkward. And the pat on the back is more meaningful when I understand how will it allow me to grow into a new position, one that gets more “grunt work” off of my plate. Know your employees & adjust accordingly.

    Salary was important to me when I discovered what department peers were making. Then it became a marker of relative importance within the organization. It wasn’t, but you still feel it.

    One on ones are great if and only if you trust your manager can affect change. Bad managers make it a waste of time.

  90. Great article!

  91. Jennifer Kelly Monday, October 24, 2011

    Thank you for this piece. I just recently started a new job and have been tryng to implement all of this. It worked with the last place I was with. I have been met with some resistance so I am going to print this out to show them I am not the bad guy.

  92. Thank you for this great article! I think your tips and research are spot on. One way to give employee feedback and recognition is to implement a low cost peer recognition program. These recognition programs allow anyone to nominate any employee or manager in an organization and give people a channel to express thanks and gratitude. Not only can people receive feedback and recognition from others, the statements people give can be shared online and viewed by everyone. Nominations can go through an approval process so they can be monitored and the approvers will also have the ability to tack on a reward to any nomination that comes through. These simple programs can really help to keep employees happy and increase retention. To read more about peer recognition programs, please visit http://www.awardsnetwork.com/incentive-programs/peer-to-peer.

  93. Are people really so insecure that they need public praise and cherish it more highly than anything else?

    What a sad state of affairs. The companies must be laughing all he way to the bank knowing that their employees prefer a patronizing slap on the back. They, of course, will be taking the big bonuses.

  94. excellent….i like it….

  95. Fantastic article, this was shared with me by one of our team members, and we are going to try and implement it with all of our team here at http://launchleads.com

  96. Amani, congratulation on your new position, I read this article about the same time I saw your posting so I thought to share it with you.
    Thank you,
    Randa Hamid

  97. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/7UTgTSAn

  98. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/g0xlXe16

  99. Matthew Johnson Saturday, November 19, 2011

    5 Ways to keep your #Rockstar employees happy – Research from #Google – Read this short Article – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  100. Matthew Johnson Saturday, November 19, 2011

    If information is not being shared in your organization, ask if its as profitable and exciting a place as #Google – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  101. Matthew Johnson Saturday, November 19, 2011

    #Google sets the stage for motivating and teaching their workforce by publicly acknowledgeing great work – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  102. LUIS FERNANDEZ Sunday, November 20, 2011

    5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/lPNFJhTL

  103. agustina ureña heras Sunday, November 20, 2011

    RT @luisfernan53: 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/lPNFJhTL

  104. Jorge Carabias Sunday, November 20, 2011

    5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/bqzH9N61

  105. ICom Solutions Group Sunday, November 20, 2011

    5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/mUnC5EAr

  106. I should check these advices regularly: 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy – http://t.co/uplDYcc1

  107. RT @brianmccolm: Listen, ask questions and engage your people, it isn’t hard! http://t.co/c0U5OZOa

  108. bridget m navoda Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    @WorkingforDell Five ways to keep your rock star employees really, really resonated with me. great share. thanks! http://t.co/PN525BUS

  109. Alberto Benbunan Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/bvYCb50E

  110. These are great tips! At launchleads.com we incorporated these 5 things into our work culture and have really seen how it has helped our employees.

  111. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/pRoZ7wbK #corporategifting #promotionalproducts #canada #Toronto

  112. If information is not being shared in your organization, ask if its as profitable and exciting a place as #Google – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  113. How Engaged are your employees? What Search engine company suggests weekely 1:1 meetings – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  114. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/Ha6Rq85v #business #hr #biz

  115. Danielle Favreau Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Five ways to keep your rockstar employees happy. – http://t.co/WgwBF2m3

  116. 5 Ways To Keep Your Rockstar Employees Happy http://t.co/9FyR7mpN #HR #management

  117. “@robcizek: 5 Ways To Keep Your Rockstar Employees Happy http://t.co/dZfeI4yi #HR #management” Amen!!

  118. jenae weinbrenner Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    RT @Jim_Batten: “@robcizek: 5 Ways To Keep Your Rockstar Employees Happy http://t.co/dZfeI4yi #HR #management” Amen!!

  119. Fredrik Greberg Thursday, November 24, 2011

    För er som vill ha glada anställda! http://t.co/cbHlnvDH

  120. Good Stuff RT @Jim_Batten “@robcizek: 5 Ways To Keep Your Rockstar Employees Happy http://t.co/vTZMqpa6 #HR #management” Amen!!

  121. Matthew Johnson Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Consistent Feedback with employees makes #Google a top company to work for and extremly profitable – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  122. Russell Drapkin Thursday, November 24, 2011

    RT @sara_ela: Loving this article: “5 ways to keep rockstar employees happy”, h/t @saralang http://t.co/FPFzt9gX “Create a culture of education’

  123. @bigmadkev This is the article I was talking about yesterday: 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/7gijsiIX

  124. Matthew Johnson Friday, November 25, 2011

    #Google sets the stage for motivating and teaching their workforce by publicly acknowledgeing great work – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  125. Alfredo J. Colombano Saturday, November 26, 2011

    RT @betobetico: 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/bvYCb50E

  126. RT @futuraprime: Gigaom has “5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy”: http://t.co/Mn6Gyotq

    Short version: do what @rands says.

  127. Great piece for anyone looking to build a great team – thanks Daniel!

  128. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/zYQW7unw

  129. How to keep top talent from walking out the door http://t.co/Zt6508eK #in

  130. WhiteBirch Studios Monday, November 28, 2011

    5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/v61oi5tQ

  131. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/1QO0aTEV

  132. Janine Darling Monday, November 28, 2011

    Know how to keep your #rockstar employees #happy? hint: it’s not the #perks. http://t.co/N865SdM3 #money #food #beer #party #roi

  133. Matthew Johnson Monday, November 28, 2011

    Consistent Feedback with employees makes #Google a top company to work for and extremly profitable – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  134. Diane Gervacio Monday, November 28, 2011

    #fb #in 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/Qzy2gzek

  135. Matthew Johnson Monday, November 28, 2011

    How Engaged are your employees? What Search engine company suggests weekely 1:1 meetings – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  136. Matthew Johnson Monday, November 28, 2011

    5 Ways to keep your #Rockstar employees happy – Research from #Google – Read this short Article – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  137. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/npVArTFU

  138. Consistent Feedback with employees makes #Google a top company to work for and extremly profitable – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  139. Michael Tarallo Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Sharing this again – former employers of “rockstars” should read this – 5 Ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/X6d3zaQv

  140. Not that I am a Rockstar Employee, but this is so true and I always though I was expecting too much. http://t.co/iKPlGCGL

  141. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy
    http://t.co/qx8yF8k5 @Rypple

  142. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/g7xs71oC #rewards #recognition

  143. RT @PhilGerb: 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/g7xs71oC #rewards #recognition

  144. RT @PhilGerb: 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/IDLBDEtb #rewards #recognition

  145. Sara Fleischman Friday, December 2, 2011

    5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/2Vf1Urdy

  146. RT @ExpediaRecruit: 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/2Vf1Urdy

  147. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/F5V6n5jO

  148. Matthew Johnson Saturday, December 3, 2011

    If information is not being shared in your organization, ask if its as profitable and exciting a place as #Google – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  149. Matthew Johnson Saturday, December 3, 2011

    5 Ways to keep your #Rockstar employees happy – Research from #Google – Read this short Article – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  150. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/iZIBqNhp

  151. Discretion Groups Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Five ways to keep your rockstar employees happy. – http://t.co/fWnLgKzb

  152. Five Ways to Keep Your Rock Star Employees Happy (via @ReadItLater) http://t.co/mibVY9tg

  153. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/hMDjCzrT #talent #retention

  154. Engage and Invest…5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/MH1kcAEA

  155. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy http://t.co/pye7YD1E

  156. 5 Ways to keep your #Rockstar employees happy – Research from #Google – Read this short Article – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  157. If information is not being shared in your organization, ask if its as profitable and exciting a place as #Google – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  158. #Google sets the stage for motivating and teaching their workforce by publicly acknowledgeing great work – http://t.co/MjpGSJjL

  159. 5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy. http://t.co/Ooi3RJPB

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