It’s very common for high performers in a team to get overlooked when it comes to performance management. They are reliable, always do a good job, and can be depended upon to get results. Line managers’ attentions both during an annual appraisal process and in the course of people management throughout the year tend to be monopolised by those who need more support, make more mistakes or are under-performing in some way.
Whilst it’s of course right that those who are struggling get plenty of attention and support to improve, overlooking high performers based on the assumption that they are fine and don’t need performance management is short-sighted. Here are eight reasons why you should ensure performance management processes (formal and informal) don’t exclude those who are achieving high standards already.
Recognition is important
It’s easy to take achievement for granted when it comes from high performers. They always do their job really well, so you rely on them to do just that, and don’t make a big deal out of it. In contrast, when someone who is usually an average or poor performer does a great job at something, you probably do emphasise how well they’ve done. Everyone likes and benefits from having their achievements and accomplishments recognised, even if the achievement isn’t anything out of the ordinary for them.
Direction is crucial
It’s so important to set direction well for those who are high performers. If they are consistently achieving over and above what is normal for their role, channelling their abilities in the right way can help ensure their talents are as focused as they can be in the direction your business will most benefit.
A real benefit to good performance management conversations is gaining a good idea of what motivates the individual at work. If performance management for your high performers is the very common ‘tick-box’, everything’s great conversation, you are not gaining that insight. Understanding what motivates someone can help you decide how to most effectively reward their performance, how to adjust and develop their role and how to keep them engaged in the business, all of which will help retain them.
Everyone can improve
Even the highest performers still have potential for improvement, and good performance management can identify where performance can get even better, and release this potential, which can only benefit the business. If someone is consistently achieving all their objectives easily, they need more challenging ones and performance management is how these can be identified, clarified and supported.
Ideas and input
Your high performers are likely to have a good understanding of the organisation, their own area of work and good technical knowledge, expertise and experience. They also might be curious, creative, innovative individuals, and the context of a performance management discussion could elicit useful ideas or insights into how things could be done better overall, different directions the organisation could take or improvements and innovations you may not have considered.
Performance management plays a vital part in engaging employees in the organisation and in their job. Through good performance management, staff gain more certainty about how their role contributes to the overall goals of the team and the organisation, understand the value of what they do, and ‘buy in’ to what the organisation is trying to achieve, therefore increasing motivation and raising performance levels even further.
Again good performance management is crucial in identifying how your high performers can grow and develop. Rather than assume your high performer will seek a standard promotion (within or outside the organisation), take the opportunity of performance management conversations to explore the different possibilities for growth. This might be through promotion but also might be through changing and growing their current role, branching out in a different direction, adding additional value in other ways or seeking out enrichment in a particular area.
Performance management conversations can help you identify exactly what kind of growth your high achiever is looking for, and pinpoint ways you can achieve that within the organisation.
All of the above reasons can be linked to perhaps the most important reason, and that is retention. Staff who feel undervalued, unacknowledged, unsupported, undeveloped and poorly managed don’t stick around. They look for challenge and recognition elsewhere.
Good staff retention overall is of course important, but surely retaining high performing team members is even more vital for business success.
If you’d like some assistance developing your performance management programme, do get in touch.