There isn’t a leader around who wouldn’t relish having a team where they consider all of the members to be top performers. While constructive leaders continuously work towards achieving this outcome by having in place development plans for individual team members, they have to deal with the vexing question of ‘how to keep those members who are top performers?’.
The suggestions to keep top performers are many and varied. We are going to share are our top 7 tips gained from working with leaders and their top performers providing them with recommendations and solutions and being able to observe those that gain the best traction in helping to retain top performers.
Culture matters more than anything. As leaders you are accountable for developing a culture that allows all people and particularly top performers to apply their strengths and to consistently produce their best work.
Provide Coaching Support. If we step out of business for a moment and into the world of sport, top sports people may have several coaches to enable them to maximise their potential sooner. Why is it not the same for top performers in your business? The most important aspect in selecting a coach is matching the coach and team member based on a clearly identified set of needs.
Provide Experiences, not Experience. Top performers constantly look for new challenges, are naturally curious, and can easily lose interest if work is repetitive. Ensure development plans are constructed in such a way that lay out a clear pathway for top performers to follow and presents them with a range of opportunities. For example: being part of a start-up program, or turning around business under performance, or taking on a high performing growth area with the challenge to continue growth and find ways to add even more value.
Provide Boundaries not Boxes. So many organisations ‘hem in’ their top performers by setting rules about what can and can’t be done, in other words boxing them in, this approach frustrates them. Instead, clearly define and agree the boundaries or limits in which these team members can operate. This allows them to work autonomously and they won’t mind being held accountable for outcomes. Boundaries encourage calculated risk taking where being boxed in has the opposite effect.
Recognition is essential from two sources. Top performers may want to achieve more and faster, however, they are no different to anyone else when it comes to recognition. In raising recognition most leaders are probably thinking we are referring to people receiving recognition from them and we are as this form of recognition is one source. The other which we have found to be more important is to ensure jobs are designed in such a way that it allows a top performer to evaluate and recognise their own performance without input from you as their leader.
Feedback builds future potential. The keys are immediacy and framing. When discussing feedback a colleague who attended a top military officer training college shared that at the end of each week an instructor provided feedback on the following basis – five areas in which she had achieved or exceeded required outcomes and one area for improvement on which to focus. Top performers want to know now what they need to focus on and this constructive method makes sense to us.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Be open, realistic, explicit and specific about circumstances and situations. The more information you can share and the more you involve your top performers in discussions and decisions particularly those that affect them, the stronger the level of commitment.
On reflection these seven tips should not just apply to top performers they should apply for all team members, the question for all of us as leaders is are we applying them consistently with all team members?
Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.