Before we start our deep dive into the obvious and not-so-obvious ways of attracting and retaining top talent, let’s take a moment to define:
What exactly is top talent?
Top talent is one of those terms that does not have a clear cut definition that people can point to. However, when talking about the agency world, there are certain characteristics that come up time and time again when discussing high performers:
Skill – The go-to metric for determining top talent. Whether it’s due to natural talent or 10,000 hours of practice, if someone is exceptionally skilled, they are on the best possible path to be considered top talent at any agency.
Ambition – The goal to become the top of their field. Ambition drives people to always keep up with the newest trends and developments in their field and continuously improve their skills.
Integrity – When they say something will get done, it gets done at all costs. And if both the managers and team members know they can count on someone when the going gets tough, that person becomes irreplaceable.
Communication – Knowing how to clearly communicate with managers and executives that speak the language of money on one side, while communicating with the technical team members who speak in code and high fidelity mockups on the other is a skill that should be paid in gold.
Teamwork – Everyone can excel at their individual tasks, but sharing a task or working efficiently in a team is a must-have for those that want to become the top performers in any agency
Creativity – Some creatives are a constant source of ideas during a brainstorming session. Some always see a problem from 3 more angles than everyone else. And while creativity manifests in a lot of ways, sometimes it’s the main thing behind a person’s top-talent status.
Leadership – Leadership is not just a skill for managers or team leads. People who join fresh out of college can find themselves at the top of the pyramid in any team within a few months, even with no direct effort. If an individual is approachable, facilitates a good workflow, or solves problems with a leveled head, they will soon become respected by their peers as a leader, even with no title involved.
Devotion – The green ’’you can talk to me’’-light next to the monitor turns red. The headphones go on.
6 hours, 3 cups of coffee, 1 missed lunch, and a single stretching session later, one individual just saved a 10-person project from being one week late. That’s how people become legends. And top talent.
Being considered top talent does not mean that a person has to have all of these qualities fully formed. It doesn’t even mean that top talent and top performers have to achieve all of these qualities eventually. A person who fully masters 3-4 of these qualities should quickly rise to become a prime asset to any agency. And if your agency finds itself hiring a person that displays most or all of these qualities, then you should do everything you can to keep them around until they decide it’s time to retire.