Emerging Tech optimize

Are you ignoring your top performers?

Some managers ignore their superstars and dole out praise only to encourage employees who need more development.

Let me open this blog with a sad story. A good friend of mine had a relatively happy childhood but always felt that her older, black sheep brother got the lion's share of attention from her mom. My friend, unlike her brother, was a straight-A student who never got in trouble.

When her mother died, she was speaking to an older woman at the funeral home and said that she always felt like her mother loved her brother more. The woman responded, "No, honey, she just felt like she had to show him more love."

This was some consolation to my friend, but it couldn't undo years of feeling like an afterthought.

Now although that story occurred within a family, I see it a lot in workplaces. Some managers feel like they don't have to encourage the superstars with compliments because those superstars are internally motivated to do their best anyway.

Sometimes, there are even more insidious reasons for the lapses: the manager is jealous of the superstar employee, the manager doesn't want to feed the superstar's ego because then he or she might leave for greener pastures, etc.

It is true that most outstanding employees will do great things with or without the manager's encouragement. But that's no excuse for a manager to take an employee for granted.

Everyone needs to be nurtured and encouraged. Recognition and encouragement should not just be tools for improving behavior. Be a great leader and give credit where credit is due.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

11 comments
santeewelding
santeewelding

Where you stop this classic from being chiseled into stone. One, the he-or-she_shit. Two, "leader". Suggest instead, "Be great. Give credit where credit is due." From your manager of unsolicited editorial advice, superstar, you.

goedpaul
goedpaul

Recognize me with $$$. I'm a self-motivator.

felleroy
felleroy

Well said Tony. Top performers will leave a sorry butt manager anyway.

damarsh1
damarsh1

Don't worry, I read a book before from Larry Winget where he mentioned that sooner or later your top performers will leave the company. If some managers praise the top performers, maybe they will not leave.

SThurlbeck
SThurlbeck

We need to ensure that the pendelum does not swing too far the other way. As the article points out, superstars will often shine regardless of how they are managed and failure to bring the next group of people along creates single points of failure within an organisation. An approach I have deployed (it takes planning and clear goal seeting)is pairing the two of them together - your superstar moves into a mentoring role and they help bring your subsequent tiers along with them. You have shone the light on your your superstar by engaging them in the process and have increased your bench strength.

Mark JB
Mark JB

Everyone is busy. Even overloaded. When you spend 80% of your time and resources managing the 20% who are problems or low performers then you just don't have time to acknowledge those top performers. But, I am very thankful that I don't have to babysit the top performers. Going unnoticed should be a compliment is a strange sort of way!

sparent
sparent

Unfortunately, it is easy to fall in the trap of putting focus and time on your low performers. As Toni points out, we have to find a way to spend the time on your top performers. Go to bat for them and remove obstacles from their way.

ThePoster
ThePoster

How sad that inclusion bothers you. Oh well.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

The Top Performers may also feel that they are being [i]Spoken Down To[/i] by someone constantly or even occasionally telling them just how good that they are. They don't need people fawning over them sprouting needless platitudes, as they already know how good that they are. And sure they will move on but not because of anything that their immediate Manager does however what the direction the CEO or Board takes the company is a completely different story. The Top Performers that I have worked with always felt obligated to the Manager that looked after them and their needs, they didn't need to be pandered to needlessly and most of the ones that I had working for me weren't driven by the $ signs offered to them by the opposition. Sure some left when the Pay Rates offered where unmatchable but in my experience they where not overly motivated by money if they felt that they where being looked after to begin with. Col

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

I learned long ago that, in IT anyway, being ignored was good! Only the screw-ups and problem children got any attention. I suppose it's because people think IT should be like the telephone: pick it, get a dial tone, dial a number, have a conversation. Very, very few even begin to understand how many moving parts are requires to make this happen, but it's the expectation. IT ought to be the same way and, to the extent that people don't have to think about it, we're doing a good job.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

Even the TPs have really good days, and some sort of small acknowledgement never hurts. Fawning and pandering are indeed counterproductive, but a real "Thanks!" is awfully nice. And, yes, the manager is the first line is keeping TPs - or not keeping them.