4 minute read – Posted by – April 13, 2018

Top 5 ways feedback can help retain high performers

It's safe to say that managers tend to plan feedback discussions with poor or average performers. But what about high performers? How do we approach the feedback discussion differently?

Do we need to provide high performers with feedback? If so, how do we go about doing this differently?

One of the top reasons high performers are often not provided with feedback is because we’ve often adopted the “feedback is only for underperformers” mindset. But just like any other working relationship, we cannot expect high performing employees to know the value of their achievements without communicating it to them.

As a manager, you might think that employees with dissatisfactory performance are those that need the most feedback, however, you might be using guidance and feedback interchangeably. Your high performers also need feedback in order to grow in their respective roles and careers.

The fact of the matter is, feedback can both be on strengths and weaknesses. Research has shown time and time again that employees who receive strengths feedback are able to reach higher levels of productivity and profitability. Here are 5 tips you can use to leverage feedback in helping you retain top talent…

Schedule regular feedback discussions

Give time to your high performers as you would underperformers. That means scheduling time for regular and meaningful feedback discussions. Approach the conversation with the preparation you would any other. Look back upon recent work that’s been performed and ask how you can help. It becomes massively important to open up avenues of growth for high performers through feedback, especially when one of the main reasons high performers leave is a result of poor management.

Recognize strengths and areas for improvement

What many of us don’t realize is that top performers might not always want to hear they’re doing great and nothing else. While it’s important to recognize their strengths and contributions, consider how they can also improve in their respective roles and grow to fill new gaps within your organization. According to the Harvard Business Review, “the quickest way to encourage a top performer to start looking for a job elsewhere is to tell them there is nothing that you need to work on.”

Understand the individual’s personal and professional goals

Recognize the need for your high performers to grow both personally and professionally. Based on Havard Business Review’s database of over 4 million leaders, “the highest ranked behavior of our top performers is a commitment to self-improvement.” While unsurprising, as a manager, you need to know what these goals are to help. Make sure to ask these questions regularly during feedback discussions.

Share future growth opportunities

Present relevant growth opportunities within the organization to your high performers. This is why in the previous steps, you want to find out where they stand and what their growth goals are. Having this knowledge helps managers uncover the right opportunities to share. One thing to be wary of is overcommitting to the internal opportunities that can be provided. If there are specific needs for opportunities that are not within your span of control, don’t create distrust by agreeing to something you’re unable to facilitate.

Follow-up with any action items

Always, always, always follow-up with any action items after a feedback discussion. As a manager, anything you’ve promised to deliver should be held accountable for, as would your direct reports. If you’ve agreed to come back with resources or suggestions for growth opportunities, understand that is something you will need to deliver at your next meeting.

As a manager, it’s important to keep your top talent challenged with ongoing feedback. Recognize that you can make or break their decision to leave the team. It’s a matter of supporting underperformers with guidance and high performers with self-improvement opportunities they wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Also published on Medium.

May Chau

May is a Content Strategist contributing to the improvement of modern performance management at 7Geese. Connect with her via may@7geese.com