Helping Your Best Employees Grow

Providing a positive experience for your employees is the best way in which to increase retention within your team, your department, or your company.  In this article, we’re going to address a specific way you can provide that experience, and it involves giving your best employees the proper amount of attention.

This is important for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, it’s human nature to not pay enough attention to your best employees and top performers.  Why is that?  Because they’re usually self-motivated go-getters who need no prompting or anybody looking over their shoulder.  As a result, managers don’t feel the need to interact with them as much, or to “check up on them,” if you will.

This gives the manager more flexibility and more freedom to tackle other issues.  After all, there never seems to be enough time to get things done.  If you have a select number of employees who are high achievers, people who need a minimum of supervision, it only makes sense to leave them be and let them do their jobs, right?  To a certain degree, that’s correct, but if that philosophy is taken too far, it can prove disastrous in terms of retention.

The 20-80-20 rule

For superstar employees, a positive experience with the company includes the opportunity for professional growth.

If they don’t believe that they’re growing in their current position and that they’re working toward something bigger and better, than they’re going to think about leaving.  Even if they like everything else about their job—including their boss—feeling as though there’s nowhere to grow will prompt them to begin contemplating whether or not the grass is really greener on the other side.

With that in mind, here’s a practical strategy for solving two problems at once.  Let’s say that your team or department adheres to the standard 20-80-20 rule, meaning that 20% of your employees are superstars, 80% are competent but not spectacular, and another 20% are bringing up the rear.  Instead of spending precious time and energy attempting to motivate the bottom 20%, cut them loose and upgrade their positions by replacing them with star candidates.

By doing that, you’ve already increased the overall quality of your team.  In addition, you’ve created extra time for yourself, since you don’t have to devote it to your underachievers.  You can now take that time and put it to better use.  For example, you can focus on your top 20% and discover what their professional needs and career goals are.

Involve yourself now

This may sound a bit simplistic, but the best way in which to do this is by asking them.  Not in casual conversation, of course, but behind closed doors during a formal meeting.  It shouldn’t be an intensive, pressure-packed meeting, though.  It should be one that fully engages the employee and makes them feel comfortable enough to broach topics they might not bring up themselves.  Below is a loose blueprint for how you should conduct this meeting.

  • Ask what their expectations are for their employment with the company.  This type of open-ended question may prompt a response you didn’t expect, but that’s information you need to know.
  • Ask what their career goals and objectives are.
  • Ask what the company can do in order to help them achieve their goals.
  • Begin to formulate a concrete plan based upon their responses to the above questions.
  • Plan to meet on a consistent basis in the future in order to gauge progress and set additional goals.

Star employees think about their career ambitions all the time.  It’s in their nature.  So if that’s the case, then it makes sense to be part of their thought process and to be involved in their plans for the future.  If you don’t make sure that your company is involved now, you increase the chances that it won’t be involved down the road.

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Stacey Jerrold