The secret to continuing to get the most out of your high performer actually has more to do with your behavior, as a manager, than it does your employee.
Here are four simple changes you can make to start getting the most out of your best employees.
1. Don’t bark up the wrong tree
To start, you must put personal bias aside and acknowledge that identifying high performers relies heavily on the measurable performance outputs that tie directly to business results.
Managers tend to get so caught in up in the details of how employees are doing their job that they forget to look at the actual outputs, or results, that determine who is truly excelling in their role.
The employee with the winning personality, most brownie points or killer wardrobe might not necessarily be the one making the most sales, producing the best products or keeping the most customers happy. So, an eye on the actual business numbers is critical in focusing the rest of your efforts correctly.
2. Remove their roadblocks
To say you’re coaching a high performer would be a bit of an oxymoron. In other words, get out of their way and stop trying to coach your high performer to better performance.
They’ve proven that they can get the job done – and do it well – so let them.
With that said, the best way you can be of assistance to top performers is to identify any obstacles that might be preventing them from doing an even better job. It’s possible that external issues like lack of tools, resources and accountability are the mitigating factors that keep them from a hitting a home run every single time they go to bat. Do what you can to identify those factors without disrupting their work, and you’ll be a star coach manager.
A quick conversation to gain intel might go something like this:
“You’re doing a great job. You routinely exceed standards, but is there anything I can do to make you more successful?”
You might find out that there’s a slow processing time for new client paperwork, for example, that is leading to lost sales. This might be beyond the control of your employee, but something that you can help to resolve for smoother sailing and even higher sales in the future.
3. Understand their motivation
Top performers are often self-motivated workers who have a good understanding of their job goals and how to reach them. They know how their outputs are being measured, and take satisfaction in repeatedly reaching and exceeding expectations.
Positive feedback from their direct managers reinforces that the leadership team notices they’re reaching their goals, and it will help to keep them motivated.
For example, in a customer service environment, a manager might listen in on a customer call for quality assurance. After the call, the manager might pull the employee aside to praise his or her good work. The manager might say something like:
“That was an especially difficult situation, but you did an excellent job resolving that customer’s problem. Once again, job well done.”
Specific feedback like this can go a long way. Sometimes it’s the little things that make employees feel appreciated and motivated for their ongoing efforts.
4. Learn from them
All too often managers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get low performers to just meet standard expectations for their jobs. What you’re better off doing is taking the one to two high performers and finding out what it is that they’re doing differently in order to excel, and sharing that information with the whole team.
Don’t just look at what high performers produce, but how they produce it. Highly successful employees tend to have a particular way of doing things that helps them do their jobs extremely efficiently and effectively.
For instance, they often create their own systems, cheat sheets or shortcuts to work faster and smarter than their peers. This often goes beyond how they were trained to do their job – they’ve tapped into their own set of savviness or skills to overcome challenges.
The key here is that you must be ready to unlearn some of the things you have been teaching. If your star player has evidence that another way of doing something is working better than your traditional process, you have to be open to change for this approach to work.
When you can show the low and average performers what high performers are doing differently, you can show them how to work more efficiently. This helps make the whole organization more effective as you streamline best practices.
The bottom line: when more people on your team are learning from the best and performing better, you can start blowing your targets out of the water.
When you take the time to identify and listen to your top performers, you help to ensure they won’t become frustrated by unnecessary roadblocks. Additionally, your positive feedback will help to keep them energized so they don’t fizzle out.
And, as you share their secrets to success with the rest of your team, you will help positively impact your whole organization while simultaneously providing affirmation and recognition of your top talent.
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