High performers can contribute up to three times that of an average worker in an organisation, not only through increased output, but by introducing fresh ideas and innovation, and through leadership and mentoring other team members.
For the most part, talent is fairly easy to spot, but that is not to say that on occasion employees with huge potential can be overlooked. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and a missed opportunity not only means the employee will struggle to reach their full potential, but more than likely will leave to find an organisation that can deliver what they need to flourish and develop. The key is to ensure a comprehensive program is in place that identifies high-potential employees early in their tenure.
A range of tools is available to support this process, putting some science behind the why and how of identifying these individuals. Once an employee is identified as top talent, it is critical that leaders within your organisation work to ensure they stay engaged and motivated to achieve to their potential.
Here are five key factors in maximising the performance of your top talent:
1. Ensure they are a fit for their role. High performers will reach their maximum potential only when they are in the right role. It is vital to ensure each individual is given a role that fits with their capabilities, motivations, skills and, most importantly, their behavioural attributes. Taking your star customer service manager and “promoting” them into a business-development role without assessing their fit for such a position has the potential for disaster. You need to build a comprehensive skills and behavioural-based profile for the role. Understanding the characteristics of your high performer will ensure you match the two to maximise the potential for success.
2. Challenge them to do more. High performers love to be challenged so they can continue to learn and grow their skillset. Extra responsibility can encourage top talent to step up and take on a broader and more strategic role within the business. Give these individuals training and development opportunities to maximise their leadership potential as well as grow their expertise. Working across different areas is also appealing to high performers. This may involve leading or participating in a project team, secondment to another department or office, or increased responsibility in their role.
3. Create a culture that fosters high performance. Understanding what motivates and engages high performers will allow you to build a culture that maximises their potential. Consider offering greater flexibility around working hours or environment. This can be incredibly motivating for some employees, and many high performers will increase their output without being tied to the structure of a nine-to-five environment. Giving them greater autonomy may also go a long way toward encouraging increased self-motivation, autonomy and leadership. Mentoring programs are also essential to gain the most out of top talent. When the right two people are partnered, the benefits for both people and the organisation employing them can exceed all expectations. Don’t be afraid to consider bringing in external coaches or mentors as well. Often an outside perspective can drive a new way of thinking that will reap huge benefits in leadership development and innovation.
4. Recognise and reward. It is important to ensure that high performers feel valued for the contribution they make to the organisation. Both structured rewards programs and more spontaneous recognition have been proven to have a significant impact on engagement and retention of top talent. Take the time to understand what rewards are meaningful to your team, and structure a program that is going to add value. Where possible, programs with individualised aspects to the rewards can be extremely valuable to ensure that each employee is going to feel motivated to achieve beyond expectations. And don’t forget that sometimes a simple “thank you” or “well done” can mean more than any cheque when it comes to motivating your team. We all want to be recognised for the job we do, especially when the contribution is having a significant impact on business results.
5. Provide tools they need to be successful. To maximise productivity you need to ensure your team has the tools it needs to perform efficiently. Top talent will work faster and achieve more if they are empowered with the tools and resources they need. This may be a matter of ensuring technology is current so they can work effectively anywhere, anytime. Or it could mean giving them access to training and development tools that will increase their knowledge and output. Connectivity in today’s business environment is critical. Ensure your team has the ability to connect with colleagues, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders anywhere at any time from any location.
Investing in your top talent will pay dividends far beyond the financial impact of any expense involved. Not only will it encourage them to step up and increase productivity, creativity and quality of everything they do, it will have a broader reaching impact on the wider team as these high performers lead by example and foster the next generation of leaders through sharing their expertise and experiences.
It will also have a positive impact on your ability to attract future high performers into the business as your organisation becomes known as one that fosters top talent. Do not underestimate the power of your employer brand in attracting high performers. Today’s top talent are well researched and know exactly what they are looking for; it is up to you to make sure they hear your success stories and understand what you have to offer.
Michael Floyd is MD of talent-search company Carrera. This story was first published in the April issue of Inside FMCG. Subscribe here.