Most organizations spend a majority of attention and energy in the review cycle on average or low performers. They’re easier to evaluate. You’ve heard complaints or seen obvious patterns in performance or behavior that need improvement and feedback can be pretty straightforward.
Given the high potential for bruised egos and defensiveness, it’s natural to spend more time preparing for those conversations. While this is going on, who is focusing on the needs of your top performers and high potentials? Are they hearing the messages and getting what they need from their mid-year review conversations?
It turns out that by skipping or under-investing in conversations with your top performers, you’re missing an opportunity for growth that can have a profound effect on those individuals and the organization as a whole. High performers often understand their value and will seek new opportunities if they feel they are not getting the right amount of care and investment from their managers and organization.
You may be thinking, a top performer doesn’t need as much from a review. All they are interested in, to put it bluntly, are raises and promotions that feel like they match the performance. Don’t be mistaken, that’s only part of the story, and less than half of the opportunity.
It’s only part of the story because while it’s true they are interested in the financial and career development elements of their review, they put a premium on seeing the impact of their contribution and hearing specific ways their contribution is valued. If you don’t get the conversation to that place, you’re missing out on tapping into one thing that star performers value even more: a path to becoming a better version of themselves. Isn’t that how they became a top performer in the first place?
If you assume they are already showing up as their best self, you’re missing an opportunity to see the potential in the human sitting in front of you; an ambitious, motivated learner who craves to be pushed through thoughtful coaching and mentoring. Top performers, by definition, don’t rest with or even strive for good enough. They want more. They need you, the leader of their team, to present an opportunity they haven’t noticed.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for transforming a review conversation for a top performer into an experience that leads to growth.
Instead of moving through your review conversations with top performers because they are easy, use this as an opportunity to take the conversation to the next level. Ask questions about how they see themselves with respect to the purpose of the organization; its mission and values. Because you’re not trying to correct or communicate any performance misses, you have the space to explore the world through their eyes.
Who are they as a human being that you haven’t let yourself see just yet?
How are they getting in their own way or, perhaps, coming too much from individual effort and not enough from a place of collaboration?
What can you do to support their growth? What is something you are uniquely qualified or positioned to support?
Next read how to give your reviews the best chance of having the desired result.