Small businesses hunger to have a so-called “rockstar employee” in their ranks and a few manage to generate an entire team of high-performing individuals. But for many companies, several factors contribute to the lack of success in this arena.
For one thing, employees often become disengaged from the culture they’re working in, while others simply lack the motivation or necessary skills to stand out from the crowd. But often, the fault for a dearth of rockstars on the bench is a company’s inability to promote collaboration, development and growth from within.
Many companies have been through this before. That’s why mastermind groups can be helpful.
How to Nurture and Grow Your High-Performing Team
If, by contrast, you’re lucky enough to have a single star employee or—better yet—a team of them, you should be doing all you can to nurture these individuals for the ongoing success of your business. Here are tips to keep in mind, so that not only can you retain the key staff you want, you’ll also increase the odds that other up-and-coming top performers will seek you out as an employer of choice.
Be crystal clear with your expectations.
Hard-working employees sometimes get frustrated when they receive mixed messages from their managers or supervisors. That’s why spelling out your expectations as to their job functions and responsibilities is vitally important.
It’s up to business leaders to “make sure everyone in the team knows what great looks and feels like,” says The Guardian. This includes “understanding what’s expected of [employees], how important their actions are in terms of the overall success of the business, and how you will help and support them to get where they need to be.” That’s the best way to instill “the confidence the need to reach their full potential.”
Offer focused, ongoing feedback.
Most employees, but particularly those in the Millennial demographic, thrive on constructive feedback. They get discouraged when they feel like they’re working in a vacuum. They want to know when they’re hitting the mark as far as their job responsibilities go, but they also want to know if and when they fall short of expectations.
When offering feedback, pay attention to the timing and quality of your comments. Top employees don’t need to be micromanaged or critiqued for trivial matters, so taking up time addressing minor problems is likely to be counter-productive.
Instead, if an issue arises that can adversely affect the organization, address it head-on with the employee. Invite him or her to brainstorm a solution with you. Collaborative feedback is an effective way of involving people in helping them learn how to grow on their own.
Map out opportunities for advancement.
It’s not rocket science. A talented, ambitious employee wants to get ahead in his or her career. If your company consistently provides such opportunities, these individuals will probably stick around.
As far as opportunities are concerned, “you have to accept that you’re not just doing [employees] a favor by giving them a job,” says ColoradoBiz. “They are there to earn a living, and like you, they want that living to grow and expand over time.”
Get high-performing team members involved in strategic thinking.
Perhaps the biggest mistake some employers make is consigning their best staff to monotonous, rote job duties. But these same individuals are probably amassing significant experience in their positions and likely have insightful solutions to challenges related to your business operations, customer service, etc.
Ask employees to submit their ideas on improving work-flow and company culture. If their ideas have merit, don’t delay in implementing them. When people see that the company values their input, they become even more motivated to stay on the job and keep on contributing to strategy and growth initiatives.
Pay attention to health and well-being.
Your best employees are probably invested in finding a comfortable balance between their work and their personal lives. They’ll likely want to serve in an organization that values this priority as well.
Acknowledging that healthy employees are productive employees, offer well-being resources that benefit both the body and mind. Access to a gym or fitness center is an attractive perk, but so are resources that tackle stress management and potential employee burnout. No company retains high-performing individuals for long if they overwork them into exhaustion.
Recognize and reward.
It should be crystal-clear by now that recognition and reward are crucial factors in nurturing your valued team. People want and expect their hard work—and successes—to be recognized in some tangible manner. Whether it’s in the form of a bonus or paid time off, whether you privately meet with an outstanding employee and praise his or her contributions or announce team milestones in an all-staff meeting, make sure everyone throughout the organization understands how much you appreciate the work people do on your company’s behalf.
Promote a collaborative work environment.
All employees want to feel like they’re part of something special. As much as possible, work should not descend into drudgery. It has to be interesting in some fashion. People like to work in great teams that are doing great work, where there is camaraderie, and the sum of the parts is greater than the individual. People want the opportunity to do something truly special.
Finally, there’s the issue of compensation. Obviously, a competitive salary is the basic starting point for attracting and retaining top talent. Your business should always pay market rate (or higher) for new employees and adjust current employees’ salaries if they fall below market rate. Be prepared to reward outstanding performance with a pay raise or bonus. Emphasize that higher-level positions come with higher compensation as well. This way, your best employees have something to work towards.
A rockstar employee in your ranks should be valued and treated well. After all, wouldn’t you rather having them working for you, rather than the competition?
It’s a rare privilege to have one or more exceptional employees on your team. In order for your business to grow, it’s essential that you acknowledge the efforts of these individuals and do everything possible to facilitate their professional growth and development.