If you’re reading this article, congratulations! You must have an awesome team. Managing them must be easy, right?
In fact, contrary to popular belief, managing high-performers doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything. While you could just let them fly solo for a long time, even the best employees will need support from their managers to continue thriving at work. While high performers do show a stronger tendency than other employees to direct their own learning, a Harvard Business Review article says they expect their managers to help them grow, too.
And the help you provide must be differentiated from how you might support a lower performer because their challenges, needs, and aspirations are also different.
Here are a few quick tips that should stop them from quitting:
1. Show Them They’re Valued (in the Way They Prefer)
Some people like getting feedback privately, others publicly. Some prefer it via email, others in-person. And some care little about words and more about actions of thanks: bonuses, bigger projects, or leadership opportunities.
In a study on what high-performing employees value at work, compensation, bonuses, and recognition from higher-ups all fall in the top 10.
If your employee’s doing great work, make sure they know their work is valued and appreciated. And if you don’t know how they like to receive positive feedback, ask.
2. Let Them Lean Into What They’re Good At
Too often, we insist employees check every single rung on the skills ladder. We wrongly believe that the only way for them to advance in their career is to be good at everything all the time.
But the truth is, just as you rarely find a candidate that matches 100% of your hiring criteria, it’s rare to find an employee that truly excels in every facet of the job. And yet we focus on their deficiencies—the checkboxes left unchecked—rather than sharpening their strongest assets.
So, give your highest performers a chance to continue to excel at their strengths, and the tools they need to become an expert in their field. If they find themselves getting bored, then you can work with them to find other skills they’d like to improve upon.
3. Encourage Them to Be Teachers
When you have amazing employees, one of the best things you can do to keep them engaged is encourage them to teach others. Teaching helps them hone their skills even further, and validates their expertise.
There are many ways to “teach,” whether it’s in the form of an employee mentorship program, a presentation to the team, or even authoring a publication. Encourage them to share their knowledge and flex their expertise, and leave the format to them to decide.
4. Actively Solicit Feedback
No manager is perfect. Regularly ask for feedback on what you can do better to support their career, and be prepared to take action as a result. As their manager, you may be able to unblock them, elevate them, and support them in ways no other person in the company can.
As the saying goes, employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. So do everything in your power to make sure they are supported, and ask for feedback to ensure you are on the right track in your efforts.
Some questions include:
- What can I do to make working with me easier?
- What can I do to better support you?
- What’s one thing I should start, stop, or continue doing for you?
If you have a high performer on your team, get ready to do the hard work of keeping them engaged. Don’t let them be the one in five who report being likely to leave their company in the next six months. Sure, it’ll take more effort on your end—but think how much effort it’ll take to replace them.
Photo of congratulating employee courtesy of laflor/Getty Images.
Ximena Vengoechea is a design researcher at Pinterest. Previously, she worked at LinkedIn and Twitter. Before moving to the West Coast to work in Big Tech, she worked with several early stage startups in NYC. In a former life, she worked in the art world (museums, galleries, art fairs galore), and also had a stint in academia. She knows all about the wild world of career transitioning and writes about personal and professional development on LinkedIn and FastCompany. Follow her for career, design, and product chatter on Twitter @xsvengoechea. Ximena holds a BA from Harvard University and an MA from Johns Hopkins.More from this Author