Combat talent shortage – nurture top performers

The threat of a talent shortage is nothing new for Australian companies; studies consistently show that the issue will continue to persist for years to come.TEAM - WALKING SAME DIRECTION. istock-illustration-17330335-linking-together-in-the-same-direction

A recent 2012 survey found that 50 per cent of employers in Australia are having difficulty filling key positions in their organisations.

The same survey ranked Australia’s talent shortage fourth out of 41 countries worldwide.

In the face of this talent shortage, retaining high-performing employees is critical to organisational success. Top performers produce 10 times more than the average worker, while they often require less than two times the pay.

Your top performers are truly your most strategic asset to ensuring long-term success. Engaging and retaining your top talent requires a strong talent management strategy. But it also requires recognition that their needs may be entirely different than those of other workers.

Identifying your top talent

There is no single definition of top talent, so you need to take time to identify the characteristics, skills and experiences that are most beneficial to your organisation’s success.

The characteristics or behaviours of a top performer vary by organisation, department and/or group. In some, creativity or innovation might be most important, in others it might be analytical skills, or even customer focus and empathy.

Once identified, you need to work to cultivate these characteristics in all of your employees. An effective way to do that is to capture these characteristics as job-specific competencies and include them in job descriptions and performance appraisals for each role.

Then when employees are evaluated, appraisal scores can be used to flag top performers.

Practical ways to nurture top talent

Once you’ve identified your top people, you need to put programs in place to effectively reward, motivate, engage and develop them.

While top performers are similar to other employees, it is important to keep in mind that they also want or expect different things from their work environment and leaders.

They expect to be guided by your organisation’s mission and vision, are concerned about ethics, and embrace innovation. Top performers usually have a strong competitive spirit and sense of urgency.

By understanding these expectations or perceptions, your organisation can work to ensure the specific needs of high performers are met by:

  • Clearly articulating your vision and corporate values
  • Ensuring leaders support the vision and values
  • Including high performers in strategic planning
  • Equipping managers, particularly those managing high performers, with solid management skills
  • Supporting career progression and professional growth

There will be significant variation in what is important to your high performers, so make sure you ask the right questions in order to understand what motivates each individual.

Those with an innovative spirit may want time to experiment without management constraints, while others may value time off, group activities, prestige, perks, development opportunities, independence or autonomy or mentoring.


To effectively reduce the impact of the skills shortage in Australia on your business, use a strong talent management strategy and processes to identify and engage top performers.

Ultimately the real key to retaining top talent is to know what is important to each individual, addressing those needs with appropriate challenges, development opportunities and experiences, and providing ongoing feedback.

This approach will help you to retain one great employee at a time and will help to position your organisation for long-term success.

Contact us to discuss how you can improve your people development and management strategies with SEIP – Social + Emotional Intelligence Profile Assessment and Coaching support




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