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Enabling high achievers: How to get the best from your best

ENABLING HIGH ACHIEVERS: How to get the best from your best

Karen Gately
Ryan Gately

Reflect for a moment on how well you engage, develop and leverage the capabilities of the high achievers on your team?

Do you deliberately support these people to learn and grow with your business? To what extent are you focused on enabling these people to ultimately realise their full potential?

Enabling high achievers to be at their best, takes a deliberate and focused approach. Success depends greatly on leaders taking a ‘hands on’ approach to inspiring and coaching people to succeed.

Working closely with your high achiever is essential to supporting them; to take the steps needed to ensure they not only excel today but thrive with your business in the future. The most important steps you can take include these:

1. Articulate a compelling vision

Share a vision for the future that inspires people to want to be a part of making it happen. Allow insight to why you have confidence in your team’s ability to succeed.

Help high achievers to understand the critical role you need them to play. Ensure they understand the impact their capabilities can have on the success of the team. Guide high achievers to maintain a clear view of their own professional future. That is, not only the goals they want to achieve over the long term, but also the milestones of success along the way. Help them to recognise the skills they need to develop and the experience they need to gain in order to succeed.

2. Create a high performance culture

A high performance culture is reflected in the commitment people bring to deliberately striving to achieve ambitious goals. Creating an environment in which people are inspired and enabled to be at their best, and win, as a team is essential to getting the best from your best. Start by defining values and behaviours that reflect the organisations desire to excel. Clearly articulate what it takes to be regarded as successful in your business. Value not only what people achieve but also equally how they go about it. In other words, make behaviour matter and hold yourself and others accountable to the expectations you set.

3. Set meaningful goals and enable learning

The high achievers on your team are most likely to be motived to achieve goals that are meaningful to the success of team, business or their career. Start by understanding what they hope to achieve both now and in the future. Understand also how these aspirations align with the needs of your business and how you are able to provide opportunities for learning.

4. Recognise and reward excellence

Unsurprisingly high achievers like to know when they have achieved, and to be recognised for the standard of their contribution. Most place importance on knowing how they are tracking relative to agreed targets. They want to know how they are going and will typically adjust their approach if necessary to ensure they get there.

5. Manage poor performers

A common reason high achievers decide to leave a business is frustration with poor performing team members getting away with substandard contributions. Disgruntled high achievers often complain that they are expected to pick up the slack for those who aren’t doing their fair share.

Take a disciplined and courageous approach to addressing poor performance. Act with compassion, but never hesitate to have the honest conversations needed to address issues. Give underperformers every opportunity to succeed and then hold them accountable for the standard of performance they are able to achieve.

Getting the best from your best requires that you act as not only a manager but also coach and mentor. Get to know your high achievers; what they want, what they are good at and how they can still learn and grow. Understand how their mind, emotions, skills and experience each influence their potential and success. Build strong relationships built on a foundation of trust and respect. Aim to influence the choices they make and success they are ultimately able to create.

Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately.

Karen works with leaders and HR teams to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. She is the author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people (Wiley) and The Corporate Dojo: Driving extraordinary results through spirited people.

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