You likely remember those kids from school (maybe you were one of them)—the ones who learned at a lightning-fast pace, got A’s on every assignment and needed extra work to keep from getting bored. They eventually grew up and became your star sellers, managers, accountants or marketing gurus—and they still need special attention.
In their book Get Your People to Work Like They Mean It!: Manage, Motivate and Get Results From Every Employee, management specialist Jean Blacklock and educational entrepreneur Evelyn Jacks argue that to realize the potential of those all-star players, you’ll need to address their unique needs and work hard to keep them engaged. They outline five strategies to keep them performing at optimal levels:
- Open the lines of communication: You’re likely inundated with e-mails and other communiquÃ©s, most of which are of little or no interest to you. But to one of your stars, those mundane messages may not only be interesting, they may be inspiring. Pass them along and keep your top performers briefed on the inner workings of the organization. The more they feel connected to the company, the authors explain, the stronger their performance is likely to be.
- Spread the wealth: Don’t let your ego stop you from delegating work. Odds are, you’re overworked and need help, so, let some of your tasks go. Engage your stars by assigning them some of your excess work—the extra tasks will likely be a welcome challenge.
- Be honest with top performers: Just because someone exceeded a sales target or managed to come up with a winning ad campaign doesn’t mean they aren’t lacking in other areas. Allowing ongoing deviations between what an individual does and what the team expects will eventually poison your work environment, say Blacklock and Jacks. Provide constant feedback and, if a star is making mistakes, correct them.
- Take an environment-first approach: By building an environment that recruits wisely, has a strong and consistent process and structure to support ongoing success, and offers a realistic opportunity for development, you have a better chance of stimulating and retaining your best employees.
- Plan for their departure: Because theyÃ¢Ã¢¬Ã¢¢re top performers, they will be actively recruited by competitors. DonÃ¢Ã¢¬Ã¢¢t be taken by surprise when they leave; instead, be proactive and focus on building your own recruitment strategy to continuously attract top talent and avoid being caught off guard.