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Developing High Performers (AKA Rock Stars) Part 2

Let’s talk development and retention.

The best way to figure out career strategies is to have a conversation with your potential high performers. Talk to them about their goals and career path. Develop plans to help them attain those goals. If that sounds familiar, it is, it’s called a performance review. The thing about performance reviews is that they must be realistic and relevant. They shouldn’t be annually because well quite frankly, most people abandon their New Year’s Resolution within 2 weeks’ time, so they will forget and you will too. Plus things change. I like 3 times a year myself, every 4 months.

You can’t get away from performance reviews; even top talent wants to know how they are doing. Reviews don’t have to be boring and lame. Performance evaluations can work if the goals are short-term, realistic and relevant to job performance. Again this gives you an opportunity to talk with your rockstars and learn more about their strengths and goals, which allows you to determine the best course of action.

By investing in them, they will in turn be more likely to invest in you and by you, I mean your company. Now we’re in the retention piece. You’d be surprised how long many employees will hang in there with you, through good, bad and all the changes, if they feel you care about them and their goals. Ahem, more engagement.

Let’s not be naïve here, rockstars need challenges and they need to perform meaningful job duties which make them feel accomplished. And there is nothing wrong with that. Conversations and more workload aren’t going to keep them around forever. You also have to pay them. As much as you may not like it folks, part of taking care of your rockstars is compensation and benefits. You have to be competitive with salary and flexible with benefits because if you don’t someone else will and your rockstar will leave.

Happens every day.

The final pieces to this puzzle are you – the manager – and the organization. Let’s start with you. If you are not willing to trust your employees and allow them to do the job in which they are being paid, then you are part of the problem. You have not allowed your rockstars to rock out. Don’t be afraid that they will outshine you or replace you. You can also learn from your team, it’s called reverse mentoring. Sharing knowledge is better than hoarding it. The team becomes stronger.

Believe it or not there are companies that really do not need new technology or high performers. Many factory jobs just need warm bodies, it’s true. You need to understand your organization and its future. This is very important because if you have an ambitious high performer who wants to do things that your organization doesn’t need, then you have to let them go and pursue opportunities that better fit their goals. Doesn’t sound practical to many human resource professionals because they will let an employee work until it no longer suits their needs. Others are afraid to be honest and have difficult conversations but believe me, rockstars realize their potential and they will sign with another label and become mega stars.

Identify, challenge, engage, evaluate, compensate and be honest to your team and the high performers will flourish.

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