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Good, Better, Best: 40 Great Articles on How to Motivate Your Top Talent

In an age of corporate downsizing, some employers make the mistake of assuming that their top employees are “safe,” that nobody would consider leaving their current job at a time like this. However, employers who make this assumption often find themselves holding the bag when those top employees choose to leave for greener pastures. In fact, the employees who have the most to offer a company are the ones who have a chance at any company. They’re more likely to leave in an economic downturn than the average employees.
Therefore, the challenge for any company that wishes to maintain quality and plan for future growth is to discover ways to motivate these top employees, to understand what “makes them tick.” Everyone wants to feel appreciated, to feel as if they are contributing, and to experience professional growth. These are 40 excellent articles we have found from around the Web about strategies for motivating this crucial portion of your workforce.
Motivating Salespeople
Sales is the lifeblood of your organization, and you can’t afford to lose your best salespeople to other companies or to have them chronically underperforming.
1. Motivate Your Sales force To Achieve Selling Success : This article on motivation from gives managers some quick, simple ideas for making sure the most important people in the organization stay happy and productive.
2. 151 Quick Ideas to Motivate Your Sales Force : You should check this e-book out for the sheer number of ideas that are represented.
3. 10 Ways To Motivate, Retain Your Top Sales Talent : Colleen Stanley of the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal discusses ten proven methods for showing salespeople that they are appreciated.
4. How to Motivate Your Sales Force To Great Performance : This free document from Accenture highlights ways that managers can get the very best from their employees.
Articles About Motivating and Retaining Top Employees
This is a primary concern, and many people have something to say about this.
5. Point of View: Keeping your top talent : PriceWaterhouseCoopers provides an excellent, insightful article on ways that companies can keep top talent from leaving and keep them motivated to succeed. The article includes analysis with statistics and a download link.
6. Keep Your Top Talent From Defecting : This HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review is focused on the idea that employers are making several mistakes when it comes to working with their top employees. One of the biggest mistakes is assuming that the top employees are working their hardest.
7. Ten Ways To Motivate your Team : Jo Owen discusses ten ways to keep top employees motivated to succeed.
8. How To Keep Your Top Talent : Joel Garfinkle provides executives with coaching and guidance on motivating and retaining top employees.
9. Retaining Top Talent Still A Requirement For Firms : Heidi Brundage and Mark Koziel report for the Journal of Accountancy on finding, recruiting, and motivating top talent at CPA firms.
10. Retaining Top Talent With Non-Monetary Rewards : IMPACT Hiring Solutions has a list of seven things that businesses can do to keep their top talent happy without raising salaries or spending excessively.
11. How To Keep Your Top Talent : The Corporate Leadership Council offers tools for helping you unlock the hidden potential in your employees and helping you keep them on board.
12. How To Keep Star Talent Motivated : Some people focus on managing the lower performers within the company, when more time could be spent on motivating their top talent. Joni Rose offers ideas on how to do this.
13. How Senior Leaders Motivate Others : Level4 Consultants offers this interesting article on three major ways that senior leadership can and should motivate employees.
14. Motivate Your Employees Like Jack Welch : Carmine Gallo, communications coach, suggests that executives can take some lessons from a statement by former GE CEO Jack Welch.
15. Building A Better Carrot : Karen Rutzick highlights ways that managers within the United Sates government can motivate their top employees using a few simple ideas.
16. Motivating Your People : Linda Yaffe, executive coach, writes about ways that companies can keep their best employees from leaving.
17. Pay-for-Performance in a Downturn: Best Practices for Employee Engagement – Workscape HR Institute : Ed Hurley-Wales, the Senior VP of Human Resources at Workscape, discusses how pay for performance can enhance employee morale and retention when done properly.
18. How To Keep Your Star Performers In Trying Times : In this blog post, ways to keep star performers challenged, engaged, and appreciated in a down economy are explored.
19. How To Keep Top IT Talent : Rita Pyrillis has some wonderful insights about what motivates IT workers–any workers, in fact–to keep certain jobs and leave other ones.
20. In The Trenches: Motivating Talent in a Contracting Economy : Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Top Talent: Keeping Performance Up When Business I Down, is interviewed for this article.
21. The Quality of Employee Talent Is A Key To Success : Mike Myatt of N2growth shares what he considers to be five “best practices” in motivating and retaining top employees.
22. Help Wanted: Motivation Coordinator : Gail Finger explains why every manager within a business should view “motivation coordinator” as part of the job description.
23. Employee Engagement: The Key To Retaining Top Talent : Gail Finger of Finger Consulting discusses two factors that make the biggest impact on retaining top employees.
24. The Top 5 Myths About Motivating Employees : Suzanne Bates of Bates Communications exposes five myths about motivating employees that she says are damaging to companies.
25. How To Attract, Keep and Motivate Today’s Workforce : Greg Smith posits that one of the greatest challenge companies face–keeping good talent motivated–always comes back to the basic human need to be appreciated and to experience career growth. He offers innovative solutions.
26. Motivating and Retaining Top Talent through Employee Engagement : The consultants at Insala discuss the difference between employee “satisfaction” and employee engagement. Engagement, they say, means that employees are more involved with the company’s goals, more willing to work hard, and more passionate about their wor
27. How to Attract, Motivate and Retain Startup Talent : Jarie Bolander’s article for The Daily MBA applies the usual strategies for motivating top employees and applies it to the unique needs of startup companies.
28. 15 Ways To Motivate Your Employees : Howard Shore, a business coach from Miami, describes some of the internal motivators that drive employees on a daily basis.
29. Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs : Chris Evers’s website about motivating people and retaining top talent has several good resources. One in particular is the page on Maslow’s Hierarchy.
30. Employee Retention Headquarters : Sheryl and Don Grimme are human resources consultants who specialize in helping companies solve “people problems.”
31. Talent Management Strategy : Sonya Sullins writes about ways that companies can improve their level of employee engagement and retention.
32. Talent Management: How to Retain Top Talent Without Derailing the Organization When Fast Tracking : Tony Kubica, of Kubica LaForest Consulting, has written this thoughtful article about the potential harm that the practice of “fast tracking” people into management can do to a company.
White Papers about Talent Management and Motivation
These white papers and documents present some keen insights into the problem of motivation and retention.
33. Motivating and Retaining Top Talent : Karen Lawson, PhD, CSP, provides this free ten-page document about concrete, actionable ways that companies can keep top employees motivated.
34. Who’s Next? Recognizing and Developing High-Potential Employees : This PDF presentation from Caliper shows how three different companies have begun to develop their “rising stars” so they will be ready to take on leadership in the future.
35. Once Again, Just How Do You Motivate People? : Dr. Maynard Brusman presents this thoughtful four-page article about the root causes behind employee apathy and asks high-level executives to consider ways they can meet their employees’ need for meaningful work.
36. Guide to Retaining Your Top Talent: Linking Goals, Measurement, and Rewards to Drive Business Performance : Softscape’s free white paper on improving employee performance by changing the way employees are rewarded says that often, top performers are under -rewarded for their efforts, making them dissatisfied.
37. The PCPS Top Talent Study: Gaining a Strategic Advantage in Recruiting and Retention : The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has published this excellent 46-page study on the best practices in hiring and retaining top performers.
Communication and Feedback For Top Talent
Successful managers will tell you that it’s important to deal with your top performers differently than the “average” employee.
38. Engaging Employees Through Effective Communication Tools : Business Leader Magazine discusses the ways that executives should communicate with top performers in order to keep them engaged and excited about working at their companies.
39. How To Give Feedback To Top Performers : Marshall Goldsmith of Harvard Business Review tells how to discuss overall performance and give specific feedback when talking with your top workers.
40. Giving A High Performer Productive Feedback : Amy Gallo stresses the importance of using good procedure when reviewing the performance of a top performer. Identify achievements, identify ways to improve, and help identify larger goals.

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