As a leader, you should be spending 50% of your energy, focus and time coaching and further developing your employees, specifically your top performers. I truly believe that your most important job is helping employees realize their full potential. When employees do their best, you are more capable of hitting your goals, increasing your productivity and innovating.
Still, how do set aside half your day to spend on coaching? It’s not as hard as it seems. In fact, here are seven practical ways to help top performers grow, develop and become even more valuable to your organization simply by tweaking your everyday interactions with them:
- Treat them as valuable. Your best employees are tremendously valuable to your organization. Are you treating them that way? In your personal life you treat your prized possessions differently, don’t you? Your organization knows who the top customers are and gives them a bit more focus, don’t they? While all of your people are valuable, your top folks are extra-valuable. Treat them this way. It starts with this mindset. Without this start, it will be more difficult for you to implement the other six suggestions on this list.
- Learn their goals and aspirations and help them reach them. Do you know what motivates them? Do you know what career path they have in mind? Do you know what skills or experiences they would like to build? If not, find out. Simply asking and showing a genuine interest will go far in building trust and respect with them. Plus, what you learn will help you coach, mentor and develop them more effectively.
- Appreciate them and show it. They are valuable and you appreciate their efforts and results, right? When was the last time you told them? When was the last time you gave them genuine feedback on their performance and results? Make it a point to do this regularly in a meaningful and specific way.
- Help them focus on strengths. Your top performers likely want to be good at their work, and often top performers are much more aware of their weaknesses and shortcomings than they are their strengths. Yes, we can (and need to) work on our weaknesses, but putting our nose to the grindstone to work only on weaknesses is short sighted. One of the best things you can do is help your top performers see their strengths and encourage them to use, hone and enhance those strengths, rather than focusing completely on their weaknesses.
- Provide them with more resources, tools and skills. Are you giving your top performers everything they need to realize their full potential? Ask them what they need, and determine what barriers you must remove and what resources, training, connections, and experiences you can offer.
- Offer them a challenge. Employees, especially top performers, need to feel challenged at work. Otherwise, they’ll become complacent or even bored. Regularly offer them assignments or experiences that will push them out of their comfort zone, build their knowledge and develop their skills.
- Let them mentor others. Mentors often learn as much as those they mentor. So while you may want to help your top performers find a mentor, it is also valuable to encourage them to mentor others. Partner them up with interns, new employees, poor performers or employees in other departments. Doing this actually reinforces several of the other ideas on this list, and if you are hoping to promote an employee into a supervisory role, mentoring is a great way to build those skills.
Few of those ideas cost anything except your time. Six of the seven can be done regardless of your organizational culture, budget or circumstances. All of them will make a difference, and the more you can implement over time, the more your people will grow.
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