Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thanks for Being a Star. Now I Will Ignore You.

Thank goodness for our "A" players, the ones we count on and those who have stepped up in these lean times to go above and beyond. They are the "easy" ones because they are low maintenance (unlike those pesky low performers that are always setting fires that need to be extinguished). We don't need to babysit them, we don't need to micro-manage them. They know what they need to do and they do it so we can just leave them alone. Right?

Not so fast. In fact, a study done by LeadershipIQ revealed that 47% of high performers were actively looking for another job. Guess how many low performers were actively looking for another job? 17%! 

What leadership behaviors unintentionally drive our high performers away? Check this list:
High performers are rewarded by being left alone.
It's a sign of praise and respect to leave someone alone isn't it?  To tell someone, "I never have to worry about you" is a compliment, right?  Yes, but overused it turns into neglect and everyone, even high performers, want to know that their efforts are being seen and appreciated. Too often we bias our performance dialogue and coaching time to the low performers. Work to touch base with your super stars on a weekly basis.

High performers are given the toughest projects.
We throw the most difficult challenges to our top talent on a continuous basis, often without commensurate reward or recognition. In worst cases, we ask them to clean up or finish work that the underperformers do not complete, which can lead to resentment. Avoid using your high performers as a constant source of catching up for those not pulling their weight.
We have unrealistic expectations of our high performers.
They are not allowed to have a bad day, complain, miss a deadline or make a mistake. We put a tremendous amount of pressure on them that is unrealistic and unfair. Give your A players room to not always be perfect and appreciate them for the effort.
 

They work the longest hours with the highest stress.
Left alone, your high performers are intrinsically driven to achieve and often put in long hours to meet your and their expectations. Unchecked, this can lead to serious burn out and health issues from stress. Tune into them and note when irritability or fatigue is taking a toll. Encourage time off, vacation days or mental health breaks. 


They suffer from a lack of coaching and targeted development.
It's easy to assume that since they are a high performer, what more coaching or development can they need? Plenty. Most high performers want to continually improve, learn new things and hate to get bored. Consider ways to expand their scope of responsibilities, use them as mentors, involve them in cross-training, or onboarding of new employees.
 

Make a conscious effort to not ignore those that make you look good every day, even though they quietly work behind the scenes.

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