Retaining my team talent

Caroline Mboijana, Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U). 

Dear Caroline, I manage a team of 10 and the average age is 27–35 years. The team is energetic and creative. We recently had a team retreat, and the team’s repeated comment was that they wanted to have more opportunities in their workplace. This struck me and triggered me to think about how to retain this young talent so they do not leave. I am stuck on where I should start. HR says they have little money for training. What do I do?


Hello Peter, retaining talent is getting more complex in an ever-chaining world of work. As team leaders/supervisors and managers, we must be innovative in retaining talent. As you know, finding the skill, time and money is expensive and the time invested in grooming talent is a high investment.  Gone are the days when retention was the responsibility of HR or when retention could only be addressed through training. The last two or three years have highlighted that the younger generation, which fits within your team age demographic, looks beyond training as a solution. You are competing with international organisations that offer employees an opportunity to get paid well while working remotely, which is appealing and exciting, so you have your work cut out for you. As the team lead, your retention approach will likely start with how well you know your team members individually. Do you know and understand their needs and wants? Do you appreciate their motivators and do you know their aspirations for the future on a career and personal level? My advice is that this should not be done during the performance review discussion because the context is sensitive at that point.  

Those discussions will then guide you to think about how you address them. These days, there are many relatively free online learning opportunities. The LinkedIn platform has a wealth of learning groups that your team can attend. This will undoubtedly open them up to learning about what is happening in their professional spaces and allow them to engage on a social level. Another approach for learning and growth is to help them identify professional associations and groups they can join. Here, they have an opportunity to participate in their local context and, if they are ambitious enough, grow their confidence to become relevant. You may also consider exchange sessions with companies and organisations you work with so that there is cross-learning. Be careful here that you do not expose your team to being poached.  The last option is to create an internal platform where you can tell your team to participate and lead on in-house projects or manager-level meetings.  Retaining goes beyond money, not to say it’s not essential, but opportunities also mean personal growth and development these days. Good luck.

Caroline Mboijana,

Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)  [email protected]