The Ten Commandment of Keeping Great People

Are you concerned about keeping your best people during the Great Resignation? Here are ten ways savvy leaders do this.

With all due apologies to Charlton Heston and Cecil B DeMille, doesn’t it seem like dealing with the great resignation today has more drama than the film classic the Ten Commandments when it aired in 1966? Attracting and retaining your best people is not difficult at all when you pay attention and follow the 10 commandments of keeping great people.

  1. Thou shalt hire only the right person for each role. When you hire the right person for a role that fits him or her like a glove, you have people who believe that their job is tailored perfectly to who they are. This means you must fully identify the characteristics of the person who will fit well into a particular role, then select for talent according to your profile.  Pay careful attention to the person’s behavioral profile, intrinsic motivators, and above all, emotional intelligence. If you want to understand how to make consistently great hires, read this recent article.  Here’s how to hire emotionally intelligent people.
  2. Thou shalt onboard like crazy. Without a solid foundation, any structure will collapse as soon as there is some wind. Proper onboarding lays down a firm foundation for each new hire, so he or begins achieving success faster.  With faster success comes a greater commitment to the job and employer because people see a bright future with their employer, something lacking in the Great Resignation culture. Here’s some timely advice on how you could onboard new hires more effectively
  3. Thou shalt invest mightily in each person’s development. One of the largest reasons why people leave employment today is because they feel like they are no longer learning anything new. A talent retention best practice is to become focused on developing each person, with a personal development plan in place in which both the manager and the staff member participate. When people are kept green and growing, they are much more likely to want to remain part of such an organization.  They also tend to de much better work, have fewer mistakes and work absences, and enjoy higher engagement levels. Here’s how savvy leaders equip their people to succeed every day.
  4. Thou shalt properly set expectations. Many leaders THINK they do a great job with setting expectations, but their employees would disagree. In the absence of clear expectations people do what they think best, but because the details of a proper expectation were not expressed, they produce outcomes that are not what the supervisor expected. Then both people get upset when things go awry.  Effective leaders state outcomes: what is desired (quantity and quality), when it is due, why it is important, what resources are available, and how and when progress will be measured.  Effective leaders don’t give the steps to do it; they ask for the employee to develop and share with them his or her own plan to accomplish the outcome. Read more about how effective leaders and managers set proper expectations.  
  5. Thou shalt compensate people fairly for what they accomplish. The current market-based compensation for just about any position is no longer a secret -there are so many sources of compensation information available to anyone today (from sources like com, Glassdoor, or CalcXML). When you compensate people fairly (plus follow the other commandments of this post) they have little incentive to leave. A hidden cost that raises operating expenses is having to replace competent people prematurely because they leave. Rather than having to spend the money continually replacing people because they leave in a year or two, why not take your savings and invest it back into the good people that you have on staff. Savvy leaders figure out a way to provide incentive compensation for just about every position to enable people to feel like they can earn more than just their base.
  6. Thou shalt provide feedback and coaching every day. One of the big reasons why engaged workers feel engaged at work is because they receive regular feedback on how they are progressing. Most people strongly desire feedback.  But feedback alone – absent coaching – doesn’t create a dynamic culture of continuous development.  Coaching is the process of helping someone self-assess their progress and coupled with feedback, keep talented people green and growing.Here’s some guidance on how managers and leaders can deliver effective feedback. Here’s my favorite training on mastering all things performance management, including how to provide feedback and coaching that works.
  7. Thou shalt treat everyone with respect. We are a planet of vast differences. Savvy leaders recognize that team and organizational strength comes from diversity.  Sincere, heart-felt respect is a healthy way to grow a team and organization where people feel both valued and included. At the heart of respect is empathy, the ability to understand how other people are feeling. Empathy is a major component of emotional intelligence, a career super-power.  Your workplace will retain far more people when each person feels understood and valued. Here are more thoughts on emotional intelligence, a career super-power.
  8. Thou shalt always do what you said you would do. People love working for people they trust.  DWYSYWYD, Doing What You Said You Would Do is perhaps the leading indicator of why someone would trust you as a leader.  DWYSYWD is measured in the little things, like meeting when you said you would, being on time, and following through.  As Stephen M. R. Covey pointed out in his must-read best seller, The Speed of Trust, whenever trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down.  Add to this equation employee retention – when trust goes up, retention goes up and costs go down. Here’s some great advice if you want people to trust you more
  9. Thou shalt be accountable and authentic. Authentic leaders are accountable leaders.  They don’t hide from the mistakes they make.  Instead, they quickly own up to their mistakes and apologize for them.  Truth be told, we are ALL somewhat flawed beings, works in progress traveling the journey of life.  We all make mistakes.  When a leader is authentic and accountable, people want to follow and remain part of such an organization.  Not resign. 
  10. Thou shalt speak to people in their own native motivational language. Quick – make a list of the top five things that motivate you, in order of importance.  Now ask someone you know to come up with his or her list and compare the lists.  What you see immediately is that rarely are individual’s lists of motivators identical.  It is a huge fallacy to think that what motivates you motivates someone else.  This is why effective leaders and managers take the time to understand what motivates each person on their team.  They use each person’s motivational language in managing him or her when setting goals, assigning work, providing feedback, or coaching.  Motivators change over time, so this is a continual learning process.For more about motivators read my post on the topic.   

Bottom Line.  The Great Resignation just didn’t happen by itself.  Organizations and their leaders, managers, and supervisors failed to apply the Ten Commandments of Keeping Good People.  Fortunately, this process is correctable when leaders decide to create and nourish a culture of keeping talent. 

This article is based on principles taught in Boyer Management Group’s acclaimed management and leadership development series, Leading Through People™ Module 6, Performance Management.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

  • Improving your (or your team’s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People™. This acclaimed program equips participants in thousands of current and emerging best practices of leadership, hiring, and talent development.
  • Raising your (or your team’s) selling and sales management effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials™ (among the 30-plus courses we offer are ones on selling with emotional intelligence and storyselling!)
  • Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster™

I help leaders and aspiring leaders improve their performance and acumen, and sales and marketing professionals to become more productive and effective. I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. We develop sales teams with our highly regarded B2B Sales Essentials™ and B2C Sales Essentials™ tailored sales curriculum. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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