Your star employees need to be nurtured and cared for, for two main reasons:
- To keep their motivation and productivity levels up
- To prevent them from abandoning the company for better opportunities.
Top performers contribute much more to an organization than an average employee. In fact, according to a study published in a book called Personnel Psychology, top 5 percent of the workforce in the sample of firms produced 26% of the firm’s total output. This means that that their output was 4 times more than it should have been (according to the 5 percent).
Clearly, an organization needs to play its part in keeping the crème de la crème of the organization well-tempered and at the top.
- Monitor Their Performance: Just because they are always producing quality work—or were — doesn’t mean they always will. Even top performances can slack off once in a while knowing that they are a “weakness” for the organization. Managing and monitoring their performance might be even more important than managing average employees. Why? For the exact reason listed above: they produce A LOT more output than an average worker, which is why consistency in the contribution is highly necessary.
- Provide Feedback: Top performers view feedback in a positive light. No one is perfect, and they need to be reminded of that fact. Even a star employee will make mistakes, and wouldn’t mind admitting to them either. Usually, the best employees seek challenge in their work. Without feedback, top performers might find their work lackluster because it does not “test their abilities” or call for improvement/advancement.
- Rewards and Compensation: Without a little motivation, the fish won’t fall into your lap. Your top performers are there for a reason. They could be after the monetary benefits, meaning in their work, experience, or anything really. Giving them many more reasons to stay in your organization will ensure that the fish doesn’t fall out of your lap once it has already been caught.
Considering that top performers have the easiest time finding other employment, you will need more than one source of motivation to keep them on the hook. Don’t wait too long to reward them with monetary compensations, recognizing their achievements, and giving them all the resources they need to effectively perform their jobs.
- Offer Career Development and Growth: Succession planning should be well in place for you key employees. Let them know that you organization offers growth opportunities. Other than monetary benefits, most employees, especially top performers, are looking forward to growth and development opportunities. If they feel that this is lacking in an organization, they will choose to eventually part of the organization and look for opportunities elsewhere.
As they progress in their career, allow them to take on more responsibility, and plan their growth or promotion beforehand by conducting training and mentoring programs.
- Keep them in the Loop: Your key performers are going to want to know more about the work they do, from time to time. This is especially true of the younger generations (Gen X and Gen Y). Top performers look for benefits beyond the typical financial remuneration advantages.
One of these benefits includes “finding meaning” in their work. This can only be done by letting them know how their work contributes to the company or society at large. Not only will they get to learn more about what they do, why they do it, and who they do it for—allowing them to become better employees, but the information will also appease their craving for the a long-term impact and meaning in their work.