Most managers want to have high performers on their team.
A lot of my work involves the development of teams who are responsible for sales and marketing. And especially in the case of sales teams, it’s nearly always about the money; in the sense that the business relies on the sales team to generate revenue. So high performance is a very tangible outcome to pursue.
Being an average performer isn’t enough. For sales people to be valuable for clients, and be valued by clients, they need to be a high performer. And the same could be said for any member of your team. They need to be proactive, responsive, and confident. But there is a hidden challenge in managing high performing employees.
Only 40% of high performers are satisfied
It’s sobering to discover that only 40% of high performing employees are satisfied in their work (as found by a study from SAP and Oxford Economics across 5,000 Human Resource managers and employees in 27 countries). And 1 in 5 high performing employees are likely to leave their job within the next 6 months.
Are you paying attention to the most important drivers of satisfaction?
It shouldn’t be any surprise that paying a competitive salary or wage is top of the list for what employees want. This factor hasn’t really changed much over the years.
What may be more surprising is that factors that are also highly valued by employees include:
- Flexible work location
- Flexible schedule
- Supplemental training
- Holiday time (or time off)
Many business owners and executives look at this area of staff management (and employee engagement) in a very limited manner. They focus on paying a competitive salary and then expect the employee to go to great lengths to dedicate themselves to the business.
That may have worked with employees in the 1960’s and 70’s. But not anymore.
Are you stuck in the past?
Modern employees like – and expect – to have more autonomy over their work. This manifests itself in expectations of being able to choose the place of their work and also work hours that enable them to have some control over their time, and therefore their working life.
Another major contributing factor of job satisfaction is feedback from the manager. Employees want the opportunity to regularly discuss feedback on their performance.
50% of high performers want a monthly discussion with their manager. But the research shows only 53% say their manager provides that opportunity.
How to engage top performers
As with many aspects of management there is no magic solution. The real ‘secret’ to success here is to listen to your employees, and make time to implement suitable initiatives.
These days organisations are busy, and getting busier. No one has time to sit back and reflect on what would be the best thing to do, let alone take the time to plan and implement a new initiative.
Here are a few tips to help you engage and retain your top performers. It shouldn’t be surprising that these same measures will also create a positive impact on all staff, not just those you see as the “high performers”.
Schedule regular performance enhancement discussions. Don’t leave it to a bi-annual or annual review. Those old-fashioned infrequent reviews are a waste of time when it comes to creating a positive impact on performance.
Look for opportunities for staff to be more self-directed. When it comes to when and where they do their work are there any options you could consider? Not everyone needs to be sitting at the same desk, for the same time period, everyday.
Provide opportunities for further education and/or training. This could be by attending an official technical training program, or it could involve the employee completing a recommended course that is relevant for their career (not necessarily for their immediate work). You could also allow some time away from work to attend the course.
Consider using bonuses to reward efforts by the team or by individuals. Sometimes a team reward is more appropriate than recognising individual performers. Be aware of the outcome you wish to encourage. The award that is offered shouldn’t be a cash payment, as studies have shown cash has limited impact as a motivator. Think about what other forms of recognition or incentives you can offer such as experiences or vouchers.
Want to know how to increase employee engagement and profitability?
Download our special management guide that presents 10 Steps to Greater Staff Engagement and discover practical and proven ways to boost motivation and develop a highly effective team.