Identifying Top Talent Before It’s Gone

Part of a successful recruitment strategy for any organization is looking for top talent and bringing these star employees on board. But what about the talent that already exists in your organization? Chances are, you have at least a few top performers you may not be aware of—and identifying them now may be crucial to your success.


Why you need to identify top talent

Every employee wants to feel recognized and appreciated for their hard work and efforts. Usually, your top performers know they have valuable skills and a sought-after work ethic that can land their choice of careers. So they may be working for you now, but if you don’t call out their efforts, you might suddenly find yourself reading a resignation letter from an employee you don’t want to lose.

You may already know who a few of your best performers are, but in a complex organization with segregated departments and numerous roadblocks between team members and managers, it can be virtually impossible to notice top talent—unless you’re actively looking for them.

Characteristics of top talent

In order to identify your top performers, you’ll need to understand what you’re looking for. Depending on your organization, there are likely unique characteristics you’ll desire in your best employees. But as a general guideline, international HR thought leader Dr. John Sullivan defines top talent as those who:

  • Produce up to 10 times more than the average employee—yet often require less than two times the salary
  • Generate the majority of new ideas and innovation
  • Serve as trainers, mentors, and role models who help others improve their performance

Top performers combine ability with drive, focus, and a great attitude that allows them to excel. Once you have a solid profile that will help you define your top talent, you can identify them and take steps to ensure that your best employees stick around.

How to retain top performers

Keeping your top talent around is an important strategy for a successful organization. To help you locate and retain your best employees, once you’ve identified them, you can:

  • Hold one-on-one meetings to learn more: Schedule individual meetings with your top talent, and talk with them about the contributions they make, their career aspirations, and where they’re looking to go next.
  • Create individual development plans: Work with your top talent to develop a strategic trajectory for their careers, so they can visualize where they’re headed within the organization.
  • Don’t assume raises equal retention: While some employees do want higher salaries, it’s more common for top talent to seek other forms of compensation. Be willing to discuss things like recognition within the company, flexible scheduling, and more vacation time or sick/personal days in lieu of raises.
  • Share top talent across departments: Most top performers have a lot to offer. Giving them the opportunity to challenge themselves and vary their responsibilities through cross-collaboration is a great way to keep them satisfied, and will benefit the entire organization.
  • Keep an eye on appraisals: Be sure to review employee performance appraisals on a regular basis to flag and track progress of top talent—and if you’re only doing employee reviews annually, try for more frequent reviews. Talent responds well to frequent recognition and the opportunity to prove themselves.

When you work with top talent to emphasize personal growth and career progression, give them the opportunity to take on challenges, and offer the resources and tools they need for great performance, you’ll improve retention and enjoy all the benefits of superstar employees in your organization. To learn more about how we can help you find top behavioral health talent, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at

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