In the workplace, it can be easy to forget that high-performing employees need support just as much as everyone else. The truth is that everyone needs a little help sometimes, and high-performers are no different. High-performing employees definitely need coaching — and here’s how you can give it to them.
Focus on their growth
Nobody likes plateaus (unless you’re hiking, anyway). Instead of working with a high-performing employee on skills they’ve already mastered, approach the coaching with a forward-thinking attitude. Ask yourself these questions:
- How will their responsibilities change as market trends evolve?
- What skills can they focus on now that will help them in the future?
- How does their company define “above and beyond”?
This isn’t to say you should look down on what they’ve already accomplished; high-performing employees are valuable because they’ve worked hard to be. Rather, gently encourage them to continue seeking opportunities to grow, and help them find footing to take the first step.
Work on their leadership skills
A lot of times, high-performing employees see themselves as members of a leadership team as part of their future career path. Discuss this with your high-performing employee openly. Which leadership style describes them best? Where do they want to be in 5-10 years? Do they want to be in a leadership position?
Once you’ve had these conversations, talk about next steps. Help find opportunities for them to learn leadership skills, whether it’s leading a project, mentoring new hires or even just owning the heck out of a meeting. These might seem like small potatoes, but learning leadership takes time, baby steps — and an awesome business coach.
Discuss them with the leadership team
In business coaching, you probably won’t just work with employees; you’ll work with their bosses, too. Make sure to equip the leadership team with the necessary skills to support high-performers. When having these conversations, consider topics like:
- Strategies to avoid burnout in high-performers
- Other places in the company that could benefit from their hard work
- How specific high-performers like to receive praise and constructive criticism
- Finding projects for high-performers that focus on honing new skills
- Encouraging open dialogue about job satisfaction between employees and their management team (ideally, this shouldn’t be isolated to just high-performers)
This isn’t about taking agency away from high-performers — it’s about making sure they have the support they need from every level of the company.
Putting it all together: Don’t forget that high-performers are employees, too
Generally speaking, employees are great when they care about what they do, they have the ability to do it and they’re passionate about doing it well. More often than not, they’re active in seeking out opportunities and are largely autonomous. Because of this, a lot of leadership teams (and even business coaches) assume high-performers can handle things on their own…but that’s just not the case.
High-performing employees need coaching just as much as everyone else. Don’t be afraid to recognize their behavior, and pinpoint exactly what makes them a high-performer. Their awesome work can pave the way for the company (and their fellow employees) to succeed, especially when their work is given the applause it deserves. Recognizing this is the first step toward having satisfied, growth-oriented employees — and keeping them, too!