10 tips for managing a high performer

So you’ve noticed that one of your team is turning out to be a star performer. First of all, congratulations – lucky you for having a high performer on your team. Second of all, well done for noticing – all too often, great performance is barely acknowledged, with a grudging, “Well it IS their job after all!” Just take a moment to bask in those two points… and then come back to reality and ask yourself, “Now what? How do I manage a high performer?” Try these 10 tips:

1. Get crystal clear about just what this team member does that marks them out as performing above the norm. No adjectives please – ‘dynamic’, ‘proactive’ and ‘excellent’ aren’t helpful here – get beyond your subjective inferences and opinions to the indisputable evidence for them: the individual’s behaviour.

2. Give your high performer specific feedback on their work, so they a) know you’ve noticed and b) know what to do more of.

3. Beware favouritism. Is the high performer’s work really different to that of their colleagues – or do they meet your approval because they have a very similar approach to your own?

4. Give all team members feedback on how they’re doing, both positive and corrective. Aim for more of the former than the latter, which means you really have to build your powers of observation to spot someone doing things right.

5. Don’t compare other team members unfavourably (even to yourself) to the high performer.

6. Sponsor their development: this can be provided in many ways, such as working on a pitch, being paired up with a mentor or a place on a training programme.

7. Have an honest conversation with your team about any changes to who’s doing what – and why.

8. Deal with any resentment from other team members and if necessary clarify what signs of high performance you seek from them in order that they too can step up.

9. Contribute to management discussions about ‘talent management’ and ‘succession planning’ (or whatever they call it where you work) and nominate your high performer for promotion opportunities.

10. Be prepared to lose your high performer if you can’t find opportunities for them to stretch their capability and develop their career.

You may find this blog post useful: What kind of leader do you want to be?.


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’, available now at bookstores and on Amazon.


Image by macrovector (Askold Romanov) / Deposit Photos

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