A business is only as good as the people that work for it. Without good employees, your company will never succeed over the long term.

What’s even more important to your company’s long-term success are your high performing employees.

Its long been proven that high performers are more productive and efficient than their peers and essential to the bottom line of a company. The question is….

How to you keep hold of them?

If you currently don’t know who your high performers are, then you need to work quickly and find out. You can do this by separating your workforce in to three categories.

  • High Performers
  • Middle – These are the ones who are doing their jobs just fine, they do everything you ask of them to a satisfactory level.
  • Nonperformers

One of the biggest mistakes that I see happening across business is managers thinking those employees in the middle are the high performers, as they stick to the script, and do only what is asked.

High performers working for poor leaders are often considered disruptive and difficult. It’s important to identify your high performers early into their career with the company.

They will typically show the following traits:

They go above and beyond – they will not stop at doing whatever task was asked of them, they will seek out additional projects and opportunities to grow. Expect them to be working on lots of random assignments beyond their day job. Capacity is not an issue for these individuals.

They are proactive – therefore weak leaders consider them difficult and disruptive. They don’t wait for permission or to be asked to do something. They will see something that could add value and they will go for it. It’s almost impossible for these individuals to leave something alone, if they know it could be improved.

Feedback is essential – They will know that they are a high performer. They will know they are delivering more than others in the team and they want feedback and recognition to reflect this. They are also eager to receive constructive criticism or advice that will help them grow and do things better. Although be aware that they do not react well to feedback telling them to slow down and don’t do so much, or that their output is upsetting the balance.

Once you have identified your high performers, what do you do next?

Motivation is really important.

Every member of your team will be motivated by something different. High performers are typically self-motivated, and goal orientated. The reason they are high performers is because they focus on their own goals and ambitions. They know what they want, and they are constantly working towards it.

In order to keep them engaged you must understand what specifically motivates them. For some, it is promotion and a higher salary, for others it could be praise and recognition or even autonomy and the desire to deliver change. The only way you can know what truly motivates them is by getting to know them, listen carefully to them and make sure that you tailor your approach specifically to them.

Help them to develop and grow.

If you don’t provide your high performers with opportunities to learn and develop, they are not going to stick around for long. You need to show them a very clear picture of where they could go, in what timescale and how they can achieve this. It should be aligned to their specific goals and aspirations. If they don’t like the picture, they will become disengaged. You need to keep them updated on this career development over the long term. You should sit down with them every quarter and walk them through your plans for them based on what has been achieved over the past few months.

Engagement is key.

As soon as you high performer stops feeling challenged, they will become disengaged. Boredom leads to poor performance so its important not to let this happen. The chances are that your high performer could do something in 6 months, that would normally take an average performer 12 months to do. If you slow them down and force them to take the same time it would take you, or others, they are going to switch off.

As soon as this happens, they will almost immediately start looking for a more challenging position elsewhere. High performers average time with a business is typically lower than others for this reason. They can achieve a lot more in a shorter time frame and then end up leaving because they are not challenged, as they simply run out of things they can do.

Keep them away from your poor performers.

The last thing to think about is to not surround them with your poor performers as they will more than likely become very frustrated. They will feel like they are carrying the rest of the team and as a manager, hard decisions may have to be made which could result in you needing to manage the poor performers out. The worst thing you can do, is tolerate under performance, otherwise your high performers will wonder what the point of working so hard is.

It sounds harsh, but you must make the choice, do you want to create an environment where poor performance is accepted, or one where good performance is the norm?

High performers are not going to stay in an environment where it doesn’t matter if you do well or not.

If you pay attention to your high performers, then you will be able to retain them for longer and change the culture of your organisation.

If you would like more information on how we can support your recruitment strategy of high performing employees, you can click here