What Steve Jobs taught executives about hiring

Photograph by Peter Holst

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you keep your best employees?” is by Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV.

Creating a successful business isn’t just about having a stand-out product, true success ultimately comes down to having a team of stellar people. Any leader knows that it can be difficult to keep these employees that really make a difference in your business, but there are a few things that you can do that will incentivize your superstars to stay while also maximizing their potential:

Get to know them
Building personal relationships with your employees is best way to make sure they feel heard. Listen to their needs, ask what matters most to them, and find out what growth looks like in their eyes. Keeping the dialogue open and informal, will create an environment where employees personal and professional goals can be met. Superstar employees are often the ones that break the mold, so take the time to understand what makes them unique and create steps to amplify their strengths.

Offer flexibility
For managers, it can be tough to be entirely hands-off, but a little bit of freedom goes a long way in keeping employees happy and motivated. Offer them guidance, but also be confident that they’ll succeed. They may bring something valuable to the table that you hadn’t considered. Create leeway for the little failures to happen safely, and leverage them as learning experiences.

As former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously said “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Especially in a growing market this mentality is more than a motivator for your employees, it’s a key to success. Freedom gives your superstars the opportunity to do what they do best: impress you.

Be willing to compromise
Goals are moving targets, especially for your most driven employees. Your job as a leader is to keep tabs on the evolving personal and professional goals of your stellar employees. Learn how to cater to these evolving needs while still doing what’s best for business. As a manager it’s important to realize when your business goals and your employees’ goals don’t align. When it’s clear they differ, do your best to find a compromise as long as it doesn’t hurt your business in the process.

In the end, keeping a strong culture that allows your top employees to grow and be heard is vital to success for any business. Just put an ear to the ground and keep listening.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: How do you keep your best employees?

How this ex-Apple executive keeps his employees happy by Bob Borchers, senior vice president and CMO at Dolby Laboratories.

9 ways to recruit extraordinary employees by Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow Group.

Why this CEO encourages failure in the workplace by Amy Errett, CEO and co-founder of Madison Reed.

Sarah Kauss: Why a pay bump isn’t the answer to employee happiness by Sarah Kauss, CEO and founder of S’well.

The one perk that will guarantee employee happiness by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

The secret to holding on to your best employees by Amit Srivastav, president of Infinite.

3 ways to prevent your employees from quitting by Niraj Shah, CEO of Wayfair.

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