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Author David Rye on Retaining Top Talent Why hiring and holding on to the best employees is a smart move for your company

Much has been said lately about the leaders of today's businesses--about the mistakes to avoid, the procedures to adhere to when doing business, the steps to take for future growth. But where are the employees in that mix? That is, the outstanding employees? They are out there--you just have to know how to find them and hold on to them. And even if you've had to lay off some employees, you still need to think about the future, when the economy is back on track, your business starts to boom again and you're suddenly in need of stellar workers to make things run smoothly.

And that's where David Rye's Attracting and Rewarding Outstanding Employees comes in. The book illustrates that now more than ever, today's businesses need not only an effective leader, but effective employees as well. Here, Rye fills us in on what exactly it means--to you and your company--to hire and retain top talent.

Entrepreneur.com: What is an outstanding employee?

Rye: Outstanding employees set a positive tone throughout the organization. You are only as good as the people who are working for you. That means your employees will magnify the state in which your business is. You have to look for what is inspiring about an employee, and you should easily be able to recognize their contributions. While interviewing, you should check and study people for what they can do for you. A good employee will admit they are not perfect, ask questions, and possess a tenacity to learn and improve their skill.

Entrepreneur.com: What, in your opinion, are most business owners doing wrong as far as hiring goes?

Rye: Something that actually surprised me was a survey I read that asked business managers why they hired their employees. I was disappointed when I read that most business managers who had recently hired someone said they hired to fill a position. Most people make the mistake of filling a position as soon as possible instead of holding out for the best person for the job. Like I said, people are a reflection of you, and you want to make sure you remember that when you're screening people for a position in your company.

Entrepreneur.com: What are some tips for managers who are looking to hire outstanding employees?

Rye: In the interview, ask people what they've accomplished in the past 10 months, personally or [workwise]. Ask people what their goals are; get to know the character of the person who wants to work for you. "If we hired you today, where do you think you will be in the next 10 months? Where do you plan to be with the company?" Those are good open-ended questions to test the character of future employees.

Entrepreneur.com: What kind of positive reinforcement do most employees respond well to?

Rye: In the past 10 years, there has been a big change in the office environment. There is more socializing in the office than ever before, because more companies want to set the tone that work is fun. Going to lunch is a formal way of saying thank you; another formal way is presenting an outstanding employee with an award at a banquet. A less formal way of showing appreciation is a simple "thank you" and a pat on the back.

Most people think [employees] want a financial raise in their paycheck, but... rewarding someone financially comes across as buying them. After a few months, the money goes, and their respect for their hard work has no reinforcement. Rewards draw the best out of people, and that sets a positive tone in the office.

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