How SMEs Retain Leaders


In my earlier research for Singapore SMEs, 16.7% of the companies reported no retention strategies for leaders in place. The other companies practice the following strategies:

  1. Training and Development – The provision of personal and leadership development courses or programs. These may be done internally or through an external service provider.
  2. Career and Job Development – Offering stretch assignments and greater challenges in their jobs. Discussion with the leaders on the career path and opportunities for advancement.
  3. Open Communication and Engagement – Practicing a two-way open and regular communication with the leaders. Involving them in decision-making to instill a sense of ownership and providing counseling to address any issues they have.
  4. Recognition, Compensation and Benefits – Providing incentives, salary adjustments and/or some form of recognition that commensurate with their performance.
  5. Build Teamwork and Culture – Creating a common vision, building a family-like environment and developing a sense of belonging for everyone
  6. Coaching and Mentoring – Assigning coaches and/or mentors for guiding the leaders
  7. Family and Work/Life Incentives – Allowing flexibility in work arrangements and introduce family-friendly initiatives in the organization


Many of these practices are ad-hoc in nature. Reactive rather than proactive. The truth is that most SMEs i know do not intentionally design retention strategies even as they face a shortage of good leaders for their companies. How does your company retain leaders? What are some successful practices you’ve seen in SMEs?

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