Companies are good at reacting to problems and attempting to solve them. It’s what they do. Even while knowing that a focus on outcomes – the desired result, produces more effective solutions. So when companies think about Performance Coaching, it’s natural that they look at it as a way of bringing up underperforming employees. Since struggling employees typically require more support to do their jobs effectively, they tend to get more attention from managers.
On the other hand, top performers produce results, and they often do so independently without much guidance or assistance. They tend to get less attention from managers who are happy to leave them be and let them continue to produce on their own. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “What benefits do we get from coaching our top performers? They are already producing results, so shouldn’t we focus on people who are not performing as well?”
Of course, this type of thinking doesn’t make any sense. While coaching at all levels of performance has its benefits, the reality is you will get far greater returns by investing in your top performers and high potentials. These are highly motivated people with a fierce desire to learn and grow, and they get far more out of coaching than those who are satisfied with status quo. Top performers can take on more responsibilities, make more strategic decisions, and be groomed for future leadership roles within the company. At the end of the day, even a 10% improvement in these employees is worth more to your company than a 20% improvement in someone who is struggling to engage.
Show your commitment to success – Invest in your top performers
High performance coaching for people who are already producing good results is completely different than coaching for underperforming employees. It’s a different mindset, and there are different goals and objectives. Rather than attempting to solve a performance issue, it’s an opportunity to invest in an employee’s success, both now and in the future. As an organization, making this investment – and yes, it should be looked at as an investment, demonstrates to your employee that:
- You reward performance,
- You recognize and value their contribution,
- You’re committed to their long term growth and success, and
- You’re willing to provide time, resources and opportunities to support this growth and the future of their career.
Quite simply, top performers want to do better. They are looking for opportunities to grow and improve. If you don’t show your commitment to helping them do so, and reward them for their hard work, they are likely to look for someone who will. Don’t lose your future leaders because you did not give them the opportunities they deserved.
Nurture your future leaders – Designate time for their self-improvement
Being a leader takes a special set of skills that need to be developed, nurtured, and practiced. Unfortunately, since star employees also tend to have the most responsibilities, they aren’t given the opportunity or time to practice these skills and reflect on their own experiences and abilities. They are rarely offered the time to work on big-picture strategic objectives, because they spend too much time delivering and helping with more tactical tasks. This is where leadership coaching comes in.
Bringing in a leadership coach also means providing your high performer with a ‘strategic time out’ – blocked time that is dedicated for self-improvement and honing performance. With the guidance of an experienced coach, the employee can explore new perspectives, try new things and practice their leadership skills, and learn new ways to overcome barriers to their success. As we’ve mentioned before, the best leaders take time to reflect and consciously practice leadership. Give your future leaders the same opportunity.
My challenge to you: Give your top performers the chance to improve
Successful organizations must give performance coaching opportunities to their top employees. Doing so not only positions them for success, but also sends a strong message to other high performers that you’re committed to helping them grow. The investment is a highly effective way to attract and retain top talent to your organization.
To get started:
- Identify your top performers and potential future leaders
- Learn their goals, objectives, and aspirations
- Provide them with the opportunities to achieve these goals and perform at their best
- Designate time for them to focus on self-improvement
Jennifer Collins is CEO and Managing Director of Hazell and Collins Associates (HCA). Learn more about their career management and assessment coaching services.