In last month’s HR Coach, we discussed how to manage difficult employees. This month, let’s focus now on how to handle your high-performing employees (HPE). I can almost hear your response: “That’s easy! They are already performing so well, there’s really nothing I need to do”—and that’s where you could be dangerously wrong.
Did you know that high performers who are unengaged with their jobs are more likely to leave your company than poor performers? HPEs’ expectations are higher, and since they usually have more opportunities available to them, when their high expectations aren’t met, they are more likely to leave for greener pastures.
Think about your typical week (if there is such a thing in our industry). Particularly, consider the interactions you have with your employees: I’ll bet more of your attention is dedicated to managing your low-performing employees than it is focused on guiding your high-performing staff. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? The former category requires more attention, instruction, and follow up, so that they hopefully become an HPE.
The problem here is that you don’t have much time left to invest in your HPEs. So how can you ensure that you’ll retain their talents and reward their hard work?
Inspiration. It’s been said that employees join companies but leave managers. A Gallup poll of more than one million employees in the United States showed that the number-one reason people quit is because of their manager, not because of any issues with their position or the business itself. Although you don’t need to micromanage HPEs, they still need attention as well as inspiration. Share your vision of the company’s future to spark their enthusiasm.
Improvement. HPEs are driven and need goals. And once those goals are met, they need new, more intense goals. Let’s face it: We’re all imperfect people, which means we can all improve. Focusing on areas where your HPEs want to develop or grow will show them you are invested in their performance and their unique contributions to the company.
Involvement. There’s a reason your HPEs stand out from your low-performing employees. Could it be the way an HPE goes about a particular task? Could it be that the usual way of doing things needs to be updated—or at least personalized to suit employees’ strengths? Figure out what the HPEs in your company are doing differently and share that with the team. However, keep in mind that you must be willing to adjust to a new way of doing things for this to be effective. Another way to get HPEs involved is to pair them with other coworkers from time to time. Having HPEs working side by side with low-performing employees can have a positive effect on their behavior and work habits.
"Most [employees] are motivated by who [they] work for, who [they] work with, and what [they] create.” - Sue Bryce, Marketing ExpertCompany culture. As a management team, do you routinely encourage your employees? Do you recognize accomplishments? Do you promote teamwork—not just through words, but through your actions? A company culture can make or break an employee’s decision to stay or leave. According to a survey by Hays Recruitment Agency, 43 percent of 2,000 employees who said they were looking for a new job cited the company culture as their main reason for considering other options. HPEs need to be in positive environments, and with all the options their skills have given them, finding a good one may just be the reason they leave.
Motivation. It’s hard for some of us to believe but money is not always the most powerful motivator, so it’s important to understand what drives your employees. Don’t know what motivates them? ASK THEM. They can tell you exactly what they need better than anyone else. Their motivation could be a title, more flexibility with their work schedule, or just a few more PTO days. However, you may find that your HPEs may just want more of your time and attention: one-on-ones, specific recognition of a job well done shared with the whole company, or simply an email thanking them for going above and beyond.
Education. When you see that HPEs have mastered their tasks in every area of their position, work together to find something more for them to learn. Again, setting goals, educating, and teaching an HPE more skills only strengthens your team, which then strengthens your services, and finally your bottom line. Send them to local meetings, seminars, or even provide them with online learning opportunities.
Marketing expert Sue Bryce recently spoke about the myth that people are motivated primarily by money. She said, “Most [employees] are motivated by who [they] work for, who [they] work with, and what [they] create.” If this is true, that means YOU are a big piece of the HPE retention puzzle.
Our lives are busy, and the thought of having to give more of our time can be stressful. I recommend regularly setting time aside on your calendar as you would any meeting. Spend this time with each of your HPEs to keep them engaged so that they can see how much of an impact they are having on your company—it’s worth it all around. [CD0519]
Christina Fiorenza is the HR Director for the LMG Group. she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.