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Managing high achievers: How to get the best from your best

How well do you engage, develop and leverage the talents of your high achievers? How much potential is wasted and fails to add value to your business?

Managing high achievers: How to get the best from your best

How much time, energy and resources do you invest in getting the best from the most talented people on your team? It’s common to observe leaders predominately focused on managing poor performance. While it is of course critical to address these issues, it’s just as important to invest in the people most likely to create a real competitive advantage for your business.

Critical questions to ask yourself and other leaders across your business include:

  • Have we identified the top talent?
  • Do we know how they can and need to grow?
  • Are we actively engaged in supporting these people to grow with our business?
  • Do we fully leverage the talent and energy they are able to bring?

Enabling anyone to work at his or her best demands a deliberate and focused approach. Success depends on leaders playing the role of coach to inspire and support people to achieve and grow. High achievers typically take ownership of their own success and therefore expect the people they work for to demonstrate an active interest in their career and development.

Work closely with your high achievers to ensure they succeed today and thrive with your business in the future.

Begin with vision

Engaging high achievers requires that they understand the organisation’s aspirations and how they can contribute to turning those dreams into reality. Share insights as to why you have confidence in your team’s ability to succeed. Help high achievers understand the critical role you need them to play.

Ensure your best people have a clear view of how they are able to grow their capabilities and career with your business. Help them recognise the skills they need to develop and the experience they need to gain to reach the heights of their potential.

Focus on culture

Talented people are most likely to thrive in a high-performance environment. That is, one in which people typically strive to achieve ambitious goals and hold themselves accountable for getting there.

Start by defining values and behaviours that matter to your organisation’s ability to excel. Articulate what successful behaviour looks like. Make behaviour matter. In other words, recognise and reward people who approach their roles in ways that enable their own success and that of the team as a whole.

Set meaningful goals

High achievers unquestionably need to know that what they are working on is important. Have conversations that allow you to understand what people hope to achieve and how you can support them. Look for opportunities to align the aspirations of your high achievers with the needs of your business. Take a targeted approach to ensuring they develop the capabilities and behaviours needed.

Recognise and reward excellence

High achievers want to know how they are tracking relative to agreed goals. Most of them place high importance on being recognised for the standard of their contribution. Validation that they are valued and respected is essential to keeping high achievers with your business.

Spend the time it takes to recognise success and reward outstanding achievement. In my experience it’s common for CEOs and other senior leaders to take high achievers for granted. While the contributions they make are appreciated, a failure to acknowledge and thank these members of the team undermines their engagement and trust in the organisation.

Manage poor performers

Few things frustrate high achievers more than having to carry the load for poor performers. The belief that colleagues are getting away with not pulling their weight is likely to seriously undermine the commitment of high achievers.

Take a disciplined approach to addressing poor performance. Act with compassion, but never hesitate to have the honest conversations needed to address the issues. Give underperformers every opportunity to succeed and then hold them accountable for the standard of performance they are able to achieve.

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