Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to Retain Top Talent

Companies put a lot of money, effort and time in the search for the top talent. Organisation like PETRONAS has started searching for these brains since they were high school. The talents were handpicked from not just somebody with brain but personality that can survive in challenging environment. But the next challenging step is how to retain those talent. Salary, retirement plans, health and wellness benefit might be the reason why those talent accept the job, but these alone cannot make them stay for the long haul.

Every employee is different, but most of the good employee love to work and they want to work happily. Job satisfaction, adequate challenge, appreciation, are some of the main factors to keep the employee happy and most importantly stay.

Below is some practical thoughts on how to retain good talent base on my humble experience.

1. Hand Picked.
It is an honor to know that you have been hand picked. Well in most big organization, you are practically hand picked anyway. but this go beyond, "yeah I passed the assessment/interviews, and they accepted me". or "HRPC/PDC endorse my movement to xx department". Hand picked is more than that, and an employee knows if he was hand picked or not.

Way back in 2007, 3 of my colleagues and I were handpicked to join the "technology department" and involve in the strategic alliance. And the boss.. she is still at the moment the best superior I had. She took time to listen, and plan for our career path. She drafted the journey. Each had individual unique plan and once you fulfill your obligation, she fought for you.

Then in early 2010, I was again handpicked to join one of the PSC in Sabah. Rather than a big "PDC meeting" my direct supervisor back then had an opportunity to choose from a pool of people and he choses me, to take over from a brilliant geophysicist. One of the very first conversation I had with him include, "well I do not know much about interpretation and my knowledge and experience on QI is very limited". But he was just, well, you can always learn those tiny software steps, but your foundation of geology and exposure on QI is what will help the PSC.

And later, insyaallah I'll be joining another company and some of the first words he use when he introduces me to his superior is... "Well Hakimah was the one who proposed the first COIL shooting.. etc etc".

Yes, to know that you are handpicked, is an appreciation. It is also an unspoken trust. And provide adequate challenge to the employee that she will try to own the handpicked character and not to disappoint the superior.

It is bold because I think only small percentage of overall employee like to be in the comfort zone. Majority of them cannot duduk diam after 3 years. Especially when you are dealing with top talent. Yes, the moment they YELL "move me out" even they do not know where to move, is the start of you creating push factor to them. And once they yell "move me out" it is no point for you to keep them longer. Their heart is already not there.

3. Listen, listen, listen to hear not to respond.
Employees always come to their superior for way out. Which also sometime include their development. Listen and understand. I always actually take time to digest the problem. I will ask for some time from my subordinate, and ask allah to show what is the best answer to give to them especially when it involves movement. Everyone have a role to play. You have to try your very best. The "Its beyond my control..." answer to me is unacceptable. Surely you have some control, he is your subordinate after all. Talk to your superior that you will be fine without him. but ensure a good transition plan is in place. but please listen to them.

that's all for now. :)


Anonymous said...

Congrats, just heard about your new baby!! Hope everything is well with you :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Ummu Amir,

i have been reading your blog especially on the posts tagged as resignation. I am currently working in PETRONAS and i love the company. However, lately i have been feeling like leaving the company as it is not giving me the challenge and mobility that i need.

reading this post has made me realize, if only all superiors are like you, PETRONAS can retain their top talents. but i guess most of them are just too paranoid to let go of their staffs.

If only.

Ummu Amir said...

Dear Anonymous,

It is sad to know that u probably going through the same experience. Yes indeed PETRONAS is very dear to my heart as well. Everyday when I learned new things here, I share with my friends in PETRONAS. As a Muslim and Malaysian, I want to see the national icon that once shaped me to be what I am today flourish to greater prosperity.

But sometimes life don't turn out as what we want it to be. I am happy if you want to have a further chat on this issue. Not that I can find solutions, but maybe having someone to talk to is a start..

What I can say at the moment, hang in there. hang in there. PETRONAS has lost a lot of good people and you might be one of them. Hang in there.

But in case you have gone through a destructive episode in your life and it only do more harm to you, your family n ppl around you, you may need to seriously think of leaving. But for now.. hang in there.

email me if you want to talk further.

ummu amir.