Why managers suck at managing their best employees and how to fix it

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I can guarantee you suck at managing your best employees.  

If you’ve been managing for a while, you’ve unknowingly developed skills and strategies for managing average performers. This is normal and it’s what makes you successful at your job. But top performers are different. Your normal playbook will actually frustrate and erode your top performer’s success. They may even seek greener pastures. 

Your job is to get 10% more out of your top performers and make their life 10% easier. 

How to Manager Top Performers

Challenge them to reach their true potential 

The first step is to understand that your top performer is as good as you or better at their job. This means that you may no longer be needed as a teacher or coach. Your role is to mentor or guide. Let them pick where and how they want to improve according to their curiosity. All you have to do is set a high bar of continuous improvement. 

Ask them how they want to be held accountable

Now that you’ve taken on the role of a mentoring manager, discuss how you can help them stay accountable. Their improvement may now be self-directed, but they’re still accountable to their word. They get to pick where and how they improve, but you’re there to remind them of their task and their pursuit of excellence. 

Ask them how you can help and support them

In return for their increased dedication and pursuit of mastery, your job to is to remove obstacles in their way. You can play a vital role in helping them perform 10% better. Often, you can help eliminate distractions and impediments. But you’re not their butler. You don’t pick up their messes. Find out where you can help and eliminate tasks that waste their time. 

You’ll know you’ve mastered this unique management challenge when your top performer’s performance increases and becomes easier. 

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Dave Shepherd

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