Well, if you’re not also considering your rockstars, unfortunately, the answer is no!
“The better the performer, the more often she needs feedback” … the single most impactful sentence I read from the Harvard Business Review’s 20 Minute Manager series, Giving Effective Feedback.
As leaders, we often put the most time and energy towards developing our lowest performers. But, top performers need our support too. And, arguably, deserve more of our time.
Here are some great tips for developing your rockstars:
- Recognize their strengths. Although we see them as clear as the Northern Star, your top performer may not realize their own strengths. Take time to acknowledge their performance and reinforce the behaviors by highlighting the results they’re driving. Help your rockstar develop this strength into a core competency by assigning them to projects that will allow their strengths to shine.
- Thank them for their hard work, dedication, and results. Showing gratitude earns respect, increases motivation, improves self-esteem, and increases mental strength (Forbes, 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude).
- Understand the tradeoffs. This was an eye-opening concept for me … take the time to understand at what cost the employee’s success came. Were other projects put on hold? Did they forgo time with their friends or family? Are their stellar results coming at the detriment of building work relationships? Once you understand the tradeoffs, find ways to help your rockstar balance priorities.
- Career map with intention. Identifying that you have a rockstar on your team is only the first step, now it’s up to you to pave the path. Set calendar reminders or schedule recurring meetings with your top performers to dedicate specific time to help them career map. Identify the obstacles in getting to that next step and intentionally carve out opportunities to face them.
- Remember to ask for feedback. Ask questions like “what else can we do to support you?” Check in on progress, ask if the projects you assigned them had the desired outcome. Ask what else you can do to support their development or what leadership qualities are missing that are important to their individual growth. And be sure to close the loop by reacting to the requested feedback.
- Be their advocate. You have been graced with a voice, a seat at the table … make sure you use it to promote your people. When senior leadership acknowledges the success of your team, be sure to speak up and recognize the specific teammates that contributed to that success.
- Know when to push them forward. Your rockstar may be walking down a path for their first time; remember that we are all hesitant when we don’t exactly know our way. Know when to give them that extra nudge of encouragement to show them you believe in them, let them know they’re headed in the right direction, and give them that extra boost of confidence to take it through to the finish line.
- Be there for them when they stumble. Chances are, your rockstar isn’t used to failing. But, newsflash, even our best performers are not perfect. However, those that are used to being at the top, have the longest fall down. They are going to need extra support when they stumble. Take the time to walk through what happened, listen to their reactions, and ask what they think they could have done differently to yield a better result. They’ll have 99% of the right answer themselves. Give them the last 1% and be sure to reinforce all the things they did right and high-five them for self identifying what can go better next time. Being calm, laid back, and genuinely supportive in their toughest moments will forge a long-lasting relationship of trust.
- Don’t wait for them to ask you for a promotion. To retain your rockstars, you always have to be a step ahead of them. Never let them get to the point where they feel like they have to ask for a promotion. If you’ve gotten here, it’s highly likely they’ve been thinking about this for some time and only recently built up the courage to approach the subject. If you’re here now, QUICK … get that rockstar promoted! If you’re not there yet, don’t let time get away from you. Keep your rockstars motivated by progressing their career at the pace that reflects their performance.
For more tips on giving effective feedback and for other great management advice, check out Harvard Business Review’s 20 Minute Manager Book Series
Adapted from Harvard Business Review’s 20 Minute Manager, Giving Effective Feedback; affiliate links utilized in this blog post