As a leader your primary goal is to influence and inspire your team to greater performance on the way to achieving a common goal. You need every A grader you can find and keep on your team.
This is a practical insight on why your top talent disengages and some strategies to avoid that by my friends at The Outperformers, the specialist online career management platform for accountants.
How to Quickly Lose a High Performer
Author – Brad Eisenhuth, The Outperformer
Most organisations are eager to attract the next high performer. Someone proactive, driven, focused, adaptable and ultimately, capable of achieving great things.
Ironically, many organisations, and in particular, managers who aspire to building a high performance team don’t seem to know what to do when they have top talent in their hands. Instead of allowing self-directed and motivated staff to thrive, they cloud, confuse and dismantle confidence with old ways of thinking.
Here’s a list of things NOT to do if you want to retain great talent in any organisation:
Manage by exception
Let’s face it. Even the most talented and driven staff will have weaknesses. It is natural. However, driving most of your management conversation at those weaknesses is a quick way to undermine your relationship and the great things they are doing in 90% of their role. If a high achiever is creating value and a small component of their performance is not as high as others, address it in a way that ensures you don’t break the 90% of high performance you receive. Overanalysing a high performers weakness should be substituted for ways to encourage further growth and continued performance.
Changing the goal post regularly
While high performers are typical both resilient and adaptable, they are also not stupid. If you continue to waste their time by changing the game, your top talent will inevitably want to find an environment where this doesn’t happen. If your strategy and management isn’t clear, what is a high performer going to learn from you?
Stifling their performance with your own agenda
Sometimes members of your team are going to be more motivated, driven and eager to achieve than you. That is a great thing. If you find this confronting or want to box these people in, get ready for a resignation letter.
High performers are often thinking about the future. They are naturally interested in making a difference, even if they are very early in their career. If you or your company don’t have a vision that is better than where you are now, and it is questionable that this vision will be executed, then your high performer will become discouraged. In fact, if they stay around, they can become demotivated and reduce their performance.
Expecting that they are superman or superwoman
Yes, they work hard and yes, they want to do great things for their manager and their company. No, they can’t fix every problem and no, they don’t have all of the answers. They want support, engagement and leadership as much as anyone else.
Not having your sh** together
You will probably hate to admit it, but if you are a little lazy, ambiguous about your own goals or disinterested in what you are doing, other people will notice it. Top Talent doesn’t want to be around that behaviour and can find another manager or team that will be as engaged as they want to be.
Ego and history
Initially, a high performer might be inspired by your great career, where you’ve been and what you did in Company X. Eventually, this becomes boring if that’s what you rely on for credibility. Bring the thinking two years forward instead of two years back, and create some new stories with your high performers by executing something great with them.
Don’t play games
High performers are usually across the detail and get what is going on around your business. Keep conversations honest about their development and if you think they are outgrowing their role and what the company can offer, then let them know. They will still respect you for the experience and continue to do the right thing as they explore an exit.
About the author and The Outperformer
Brad Eisenhuth is the Co-Founder of The Outperformer – the world’s first online career management and virtual coaching platform dedicated to the accounting and finance profession.
Brad developed a passion and energy for bringing The Outperformer to life through over 12 years in recruitment and search, most recently as Director of a high performance accounting and finance executive recruitment group.
He is also the author of CFgrOw: Staying in the driver’s seat on the path to CFO, (published Feb 2015) which is recommended by The Institute of Chartered Accountants. He has appeared in the Australian Financial Review, Acuity Magazine, ShortList and other publications, and has presented in various forums including ACCA’s Think Ahead Series in 2015.
Go to www.theoutperformer.co to learn more about the upcoming launch of our career management platform and the opportunity to connect with like-minded talent in the accounting and finance community.