How to Retain Superstars

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Scenario: "Dude, we'll motivate them with money. We'll keep all of them! High-five!" Think back to something you did spectacularly well.

  1. You entirely enjoyed the process.
  2. You felt inherently motivated.
  3. Money played barely any role.

Yet, you see managers/execs thinking: "Hey, I can drive performance if I motivate people with $. Yay!" Bull-oney. If you keep your superstars financially happy, they'll kick ass -- regardless of how much you pay them.

The Purpose of Compensation

The purpose of compensation is not to motivate people with money. As a Jim Collins study goes, superstars are inherently motivated to excellence regardless of pay. Instead according to the study, compensation's purpose is to:

  • keep the best
  • reject the worst -- immediately

When you have a compensation system that keeps the best people, and drives out those who suck quickly -- you start building a superstar team that feeds off of each other. Result: You get one kick-ass mutha-!@^^% team that's about to rock the world like it ain't no thang.

Sidebar: The Rock Star Paying Guide

  • A. You pay them too low: They'll bolt.
  • B. You pay them enough: They'll kick-ass
  • C. You pay them more than enough: You'll see no performance change from B.

An Example!

Say you're building a compensation system for your sales team. Ultimately, you want a team fully packed with super-all-stars who can generate tons of sales. So, you build your compensation program this way:

  • Base pay among lowest in industry.
  • The rest of compensation is determined by ^ sales they close -- where those who thrive earn substantially more than industry averages.

That helps you (1) keep those who'll rock, and (2) quickly eject those who suck.

  • If someone rocks: They'll be super happy knowing they're compensated among the best in the industry.
  • If someone sucks: They'll leave quickly to a suckier company, knowing they can make more with less effort.

Ta-da: You've just automated your system to retain only all-stars for today/tomorrow/next-year/yadda/yadda. Yay for yo badass.

Divide, then conquer.


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Posted on April 12

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