Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How to Manage a High Performer

Not too long ago Spark Hire discussed how to manage an under performer. We learned that communication is most important when dealing with an under performer on your team. It may be obvious that managing an under performer is a bit difficult, but did you ever think of how to properly manager a high performer? Right off the bat it seems as though a high performer is a manager’s dream. They get the job done, usually motivate others and keep the ball rolling in the company. However, if they are not managed correctly they could become very difficult and cause much stress and strain on you and the company.

When you first think of a high performer you likely think, “Great! They are just what I need to get things going in the right direction for my team.” That may be true, but high performers also have their own set of drawbacks. Since they are a high performer they may think they deserve special attention and are exempt from certain rules that others must follow. High performers are also prone to burnout, can hinder others’ progress and may set the bar too high for others. So you see, managing high performers isn’t that piece of cake you thought it would be. The truth is, managing anyone isn’t easy. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do though to make sure you are managing your high performer adequately.

When you have a high performer on your hands you need to be clear and careful with your feedback. Be sure that your desired outcome for their work is clear and that they know for sure what they are working towards. With a clear outcome, high performers will usually go above and beyond what is expected. However, if they do not know what is expected of them and the lines are fuzzy then it can be difficult. This goes for most workers, but high performers especially. Once they know what is expected of them, and you are clear on your desired outcome, step back and let them get to work. Micromanaging a high performer is one of the worst things you can do.

If your high performing employee meets your set goals- and goes above an beyond as always- then be sure to show your appreciation for their hard work. High performers will likely need more than the cliched “Employee of the Week” title, so get creative. With a high performer, you need to put in a little bit more effort. Give them specific and public praise to encourage their hard work. When they really impress you, take them out to lunch or reward them with some sort of company gift. Before you say you can’t afford it, know that employee appreciation doesn’t have to equal out to dollar signs. Letting them leave early or come in late is a reward as well, and that is free. All employees need to be appreciated for their work and hard work must be recognized, but this is especially true for high performers. Keep this in mind.

Make Sure They are Being Challenged
High performers need to be challenged. In fact, they live for it. This is the key to keeping high performers engaged with their work and keeping their high performance up. If they are bored, their performance levels will drop significantly and your high performer will no longer be a top performer. You need to make sure you are doling out challenging tasks and responsibilities to keep them busy. Be sure to lead them in the right direction and constantly look for ways to challenge their skills.

Remember Your Other Employees
The exciting thing about having a high performer on your team is that they can positively motivate others on your team and in the department. However, having a high performer can also do quite the opposite; how you manage them can make all the difference. As stated earlier, a drawback to having a high performer is that they may feel they are exempt from certain rules and feel as though they are above others in the office. As a manager or employer, you need to work against this. As stated in Your Performance Matters, you need to know when to give and take. Meaning, you need to know when to let certain things slide with a high performer and when to catch them. For instance, if you have a high performer that constantly shows up late to meetings because they think they are privileged, then others will take offense to this. As a result, their performance levels may drop since they feel others are getting special treatment.

Even though this person is a high performer, and a gem to your company, you still need to manage and control them. However, letting some things slide is important as well. As stated in Your Performance Matters, if you have a high performer and their office is messy, or not up to your particular standards, let it slide. Unless their office is a complete disaster, don’t get on them about it. This goes for their work, too. Micromanaging is a huge no-no when it comes to high performers, so find that balance of give and take with them.

Having a high performer on your team is great, and they can take your company above and beyond. However, you need to learn how to manage them successfully in order to get that high payout. Keep these tips in mind and push your high performer to the limit- avoiding burnout, of course.

How do you keep your high performer motivated? Share with us in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by chicadecasa

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter