Goto your account
Search Stories by: 


Great people attract other high achievers
Great people attract other high achievers

The challenge of retaining great staff

An enterprise is only as good as its people. Seeking exceptional workers will not only improve outcomes but also influence other staff to elevate the company culture, writes BARRY URQUHART.

Great people are attractive, appealing and valuable assets to any business. They are also like magnets in that they attract other great workers and great customers as well; however, great people can be hard to find and even harder to retain.

The adjective ‘great’ is an emotional term; it’s difficult to quantify. There are plenty of questions about how to measure greatness and much subjectivity in the assessment. How accurate was the title of Alexander the Great really, for example?

When recruiting, greatness can only be properly understood and applied in a context that is relevant to the culture of the enterprise as a whole.

Consequently, the search for great people is typically random and inefficient. Any attempt to identify them through networking can be compromised by mateship and the questionable values and motives applied by mutual associates. Only occasionally does networking lead to a“meeting of the minds”.

Searching for greatness

It takes considerable time, money and resources to sift through job applications and business leaders need to assess whether they are getting value from this distribution of resources, especially when new employees prove to be unsuccessful.

The presence of greatness is not conspicuous in a CV. There is no university course that teaches students how to be great and what referee – or applicant, for that matter – would be so bold as to use the term as a descriptor?!

Far too often, those identified as possessing the potential for greatness fail to live up to expectations because greatness is not an aptitude with pre-determined dimensions.

Rather, greatness is an attitude, a self-belief which is articulated in so many ways, often non-verbal and subtle.

"Great people often don’t need rules and policing to ensure compliance or conformity – for them, those factors simply limit their maximum potential"

People can often sense when they have been or are in the presence of greatness.

It is a good feeling and promotes a desire to remain in their company.

Yet no-one knows better the presence and quality of greatness than the individual; self- image is a key and fundamental component of self-determination.

In employment advertisements, one strategy is to refocus from the position to the person.

The bold and challenging declaration that an entity is seeking a special person triggers an intriguing process: in the first instance, there is a fall in the number of applications and, at the same time, there is a rise in the overall quality of those applicants.

Typically, the resulting interviews and interactions are interesting and challenging. After all, great people want to work for, and with, great businesses, bosses and peers.

Individually and collectively, great people have a presence. They also generate a sense of energy and urgency. The resultant culture and ambience are, well, great!

Keeping great people

Expectations of and by great people are high, generally dynamic and very personal. Recognition of, and respect for, the individual is imperative. Elitism is not desirable nor typically functional and therefore great should be the norm, not the exception.

Moreover, great people are inclined to attract other great people, so high- achievement becomes a benchmark in the company culture.

Great people often don’t need rules and policing to ensure compliance or conformity. For them, those factors simply limit their maximum potential.

The positive alternative is to provide parameters within which people strive for and achieve their consistent optimal performance. Explanations of ‘why we do the things we do’ promote and facilitate understanding and commitment.

Ongoing, prompt and genuine recognition and reinforcement are valued by all and contribute to cohesion and malleability. These elements ensure dynamism, growth, and development.

Like many things in life, the essential component is the context rather than the content. Managers seek to control processes and they can find it difficult to exercise control over great people.

Meanwhile, leaders focus more on influencing and enhancing values – but they also must facilitate individual and collective growth. Each is an integral component of the art of retaining great people.

Above all, whether they accept or embrace the tag of ‘great’, high achievers have much to contribute. Ensuring their involvement in key elements of the business is fundamental for retaining a culture of greatness and attracting even more great people.

Barry Urquhart

Contributor • Marketing Focus

Barry Urquhart is managing director of Marketing Focus. He has been a consultant to the retail industry around the world since 1980. Visit: or email

Expertise Events

Read current issue

login to my account
Username: Password:
Athan Wholesale Jewellers
Rapid Casting
Jeweller Magazine
© 2024 Befindan Media