Nurturing your top performers is critical to the long term success of our business. Don’t believe it? Take a look at these statistics.
- Top performers produce as much as 10 times more than the average worker, while they often require less than two times the pay (Sullivan, 2012).
- “Superstars” produce up to 12 times more than the average employee (Corporate Executive Board).
- The top performer differential is 2.5 to 10 times that of an average employee (Sullivan, 2008).
- The more top performers you have, the greater the organization’s productivity!
Managers give all of their attention to the weak players – those who need to improve. They draw us in again and again, receiving the regular feedback. But, what about top performers? You may feel that by leaving them alone, you’re paying them the greatest compliment. This is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing and what they are expecting. It’s a fact that organization’s top talent can have the easiest time finding other employment.
So, make a fresh commitment to give them the time, the feedback, and the opportunity to grow in your organization and nurture them to contribute to the overall growth of your organization.
The more you know about your employees, the better coach and leader you can be.
There are many ways to help you understand your employees, motivate them for long-term satisfaction, and to help them overcome weaknesses and making them even better at their jobs.
Identify your “A” Players
In an organization, “A” players or “top talent” are typically those with the best performance ratings. Defining top talent should go beyond this single measure. Characteristics and behaviours may also help you to identify these talent among your employees. Some common examples include:
- Positive energy/attitude
- Entrepreneurial spirit
- Innovation or creativity
- Commitment to your startup’s culture and mission
- Effective communication skills
- Customer focus and empathy
- Potential for growth
- Job expertise and skills
- Analytical skills
- Commitment to deliver
- A strong work ethic
- Decision-making skills
Once you have identified the key characteristics or behaviours, measure your employees against these expectations and get a 360° feedback from the managers.
Focus on Motivational Dynamics
Once you’ve identified your organization’s top talent, it’s important to focus on the motivational dynamics. Motivational dynamics have changed dramatically to reflect new work requirements and changed worker expectations.
One of the biggest changes has been the rise in importance of psychic, or intrinsic rewards, and the decline of material or extrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards—usually financial—are the tangible rewards given employees by managers, such as pay raises, bonuses, and benefits. They are called “extrinsic” because they are external to the work itself and other people control their size and whether or not they are granted. In contrast, intrinsic rewards are psychological rewards that employees get from doing meaningful work and performing it well. Because intrinsic rewards are intangible, they usually arise from within the person who is doing the activity or behavior. Some examples of intrinsic reward includes:
- Provide meaningful work
- Allow workers to make choices through a high level of autonomy
- Provide opportunities for employees to show their competence in areas of expertise
- Facilitate professional development so that employees can expand on their level of knowledge
- Offer frequent opportunities for employees to reward themselves
- Allow employees the opportunity to connect with those with whom they serve to obtain valuable feedback
- Give them a path to monitor their progress with milestones along the way
Before you can take action to nurture your top talent, you need to take time to get to know them as individuals and discover what motivates and engages them. Once you know this, it can be fairly easy to address their needs.
Provide Continuous Development
Just like all other employees, your top talent need opportunities for development and career growth. If companies are truly serious about retaining, and developing high-quality talent, they need to view themselves as growth platforms where people can develop themselves faster than they could elsewhere. It’s also important to nurture an individual’s development in areas where they are less strong, in order to allow them to make greater use of their strengths. Growth opportunities should occur on the job where employees can learn from coworkers and associates. This on-the-job model of learning can enable people to continually acquire relevant skills and tacit knowledge in their domain.
Make them Feel Truly Valued
Employee recognition isn’t rocket science. One of your most important responsibilities of the management is to make your employees feel truly valued, letting them know that without them, your company, your department—and frankly, you—would be worse off.
To effectively convey this, think about how you approach everyday conversations with your employees. When you assign a new task, for example, go beyond the basic and reiterate why you truly value their work. While it’s important for top performers to know they are valued by their organizations, they also need to know that their contributions are underpinned by many other people. Acknowledging the value and contributions of all employees helps your “A” team understand their place on the team and helps all employees endeavour for better performance.