As a boss, it’s challenging to manage high performers. Most of these superstars know they know their stuff. Since they believe others are less knowledgeable and less capable than they are, it sometimes taxes them to listen to others. Even their boss!
If they’re causing you sleepless nights, most likely you aren’t the only one. As their boss, it’s up to you to manage them and their egos, to keep them engaged and growing with your company.
Look beneath the surface. We falsely believe that if a top performer does well in one area, s/he will do superbly in other areas, too. Unfortunately, if you’re not using scientifically validated assessment products to ascertain their thinking style, core behavioral traits, and occupational interests, you may lose them. Superstars hate to fail. Provide them challenges, not to be confused with busy work, which they are quick to spot and resent.
Manage their expectations. While you may believe your top performers are flawless, it’s not the reality. When they make mistakes, hold them accountable, just as you would any other employee. Have a come down to reality conversation focused on 2-2-2:
- Two things they do well
- Two very specific areas for improvements
- Wrap-up by acknowledging two of their best contributions
Expect good people skills. Too often as bosses, we overlook our superstars’ interpersonal skills. When we step into a dispute to resolve it for them too soon, it creates more animosity between the superstar and co-workers (or clients). Instead, expect them to work it out themselves. Wait until a situation is brought to your attention, or others complain. Then it’s appropriate for you to act. Set a time and place for them to create a solution and work it out. Conflict resolution can be made easier when you use scientifically validated assessment products (e.g., 360-degree feedback tools focused on the job traits and not whether someone is likeable, or not) that help others see themselves objectively in relationship to others.
Money is not a motivator. While your superstars may demand more and more money, higher salaries will not provide the incentive necessary for them to continue to excel. Find other ways of compensating them based upon results (e.g., perks, vacations, gift certificates, etc.).
©Jeannette Seibly, 2010