4 Employee Retention Tools We Learned from Shark Tank

Popular ABC TV show Shark Tank is a prototype for what is possibly the world’s best recruitment process. While many viewers tune in for entertainment, witnessing the frenzy of action provides valuable insight on how to recruit and retain high performing employees. Here are four real-world retention lessons from Shark Tank. These expose some of the most powerful employee retention tools on land.

1: Selling the  Opportunity

In the absence of presenting value, the wall of sharks are impenetrable. Once the Sharks pick up the scent of opportunity, the tide quickly turns. Acting as if the employee is the prey, Kevin O’Leary, aka “Mr. Wonderful,” turns on the charm once he smells money in the water. All of a sudden the dynamic reverses and he pitches all the benefits he can give (e.g. special attention, connections, resources) to make an offer they can’t refuse.

Multi-million dollar payouts are not up for grabs in the day to day copier business or restaurant. However, employers will profit from making good use of this sales tactic with high performing employees. First, make it crystal clear what the company has to offer. As long as it is true, repeat it, over and over again. Then deliver it with pride. Treating employees like clients is an employee retention strategy that will ensure your fish never swim away.

2: Understanding True Commitment

Of all the aspects of a human relationship, commitment is the most delicate. The Sharks all screen for commitment during the questioning phase. Barbara Corcoran is especially skilled at finding out who has their heart truly in the business.  She knows that for people to weather the stormy seas of entrepreneurship requires sheer dedication.  At the first sign of feigned interest, she recasts the net. Never ensnared by appearances, she knows there are better fish in the sea.

In real life, every company strives for this shark sense. Not all measure up.  While the Sharks rely on primal instincts, employee retention tools can take the pulse of your staff’s commitment. Capturing innovative workplace dimensions like CAPLET directly measures commitment in the modern workplace.  With dynamic survey tools that work like a “company Fitbit”, we can monitor employee connectedness, appreciation, productivity, loyalty, engagement, and trust. No Shark needed.

3: Clarity of Purpose

The Sharks adeptly screen with questions that detect purpose. When a venture interests them, they ask “What are you going to do with the money?” or “Why are you here?” Taking the plunge without this screening, many Shark Tank deals fizzle after the show due to negotiations led awry from misalignment of mission, goals, or values.

In the mission to recruit and retain high performers, sharks and non-sharks can ensure that employee’s interests align with the company. When staff sees the company vision, they are significantly more likely to pursue it. When staff pursues it, the company is significantly more likely to achieve it. Connectedness, to the people, products, and vision, is one of the most powerful commitment indicators. This is an important factor to include when predicting turnover.

4: Recognize it is Not Always About the Money

If the Shark with the largest bait won every time, Shark Tank would not be real.  The Sharks recognize that money is not the only reason that entrepreneurs come to the show. Many need the guidance and direction that a strategic advisor can bring. Mark Cuban will bluntly ask, “What’s important to you? What do you need the most out of this deal?” You can see them listen in that moment, and determine their future on those words. For example, when there’s a beauty or household product deal that she is interested in, Lori Greiner restates the mentorship she brings when going to QVC and retail outlets. At times she wins with a lower bid just because of the intrinsic value of counseling she brings.

Successful employers know that employees aren’t always after the biggest paycheck. Benefits such as training, flexible work-life options, opportunity to play an influential role in product design, recognition, and true appreciation recruits and retains most top talent.

Employee Retention Idea #44

Treat employees like a customer. Take 5 minutes to ask 1 high potential employee: “Why are you here?” and “What is important to you?”

Identify your high potentials (and future leaders) by gauging how close they are to the mission of your company. In moments, we can connect the employee’s needs with the needs of the company. Or identify the gap to fill. Either way, we are better prepared to bring the greatest return on their investment.

Some people are famous for a reason. As commanders of some of the most recognized brands, the sharks certainly know the employee retention tactics frequently lacking in business. To take a deeper dive and put shark principles to work at your organization, contact [email protected].


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