Have you managed a team at any point of time in your career? Was there someone in your team who was above average and was clearly a super-performer? And did you get confused on how to “manage” this breed? Then you are not alone.
This is a common challenge the average Managers face almost everyday, while handling above-average employees. Few suggestions you might like to try out:
1. Stop trying to “Manage” — Managing people is not the most loved word in industry anymore. Knowledge workers don’t want to get managed by someone else, more so if they know their work well and at times better than their Managers. Instead of managing them, start behaving as a partner, and together work towards the success of the project.
2. Don’t overload smarter people — More often than not, smarter workers end up getting the most difficult assignments as their managers depend on them in delivering the toughest component of the project. But that’s not really fair as the super performer ends up getting a stressed out engineer, burning midnight oil all the time.
3. But don’t bore them out — This might seem contradictory to (2). but the catch is in the frequency of the challenging jobs. If all the tasks assigned to your super performer are challenging in nature, then she might find sticking to the job challenging as well. Also challenging job doesn’t necessarily mean a stressful job. This is a delicate balance, but it is the most important one in retaining super performers in your project and company.
4. Compensate the smarter people more than the others — Unfortunately though the managers have a say during work assignments throughout the year, they start losing their voice when the time for yearly pay hike comes. Super performers need some additional benefits compared to the rest 90% population. You should not cover your face behind company policy and what-not when the time comes to compensate your best employee in the best possible manner.
And don’t preach Maslow’s pyramid during Appraisal cycles — it generally loses its effectiveness during that period of the year.
5. Let them know they are special — Most of the smarter workers know the fact that they are better than others. But they don’t brag about that. However their silence doesn’t mean that they don’t need any external recognition as they also belong to the same planet as you. Use the appropriate forums to appreciate the good work they have done and share the story with the other team members.
Not all the Managers get a super performer in their team every time. But if you have got lucky, don’t blow that out. Do your level best to retain that super performer in your team and together make a wonderful growth story.
First published on Linkedin in July 2014