One of the counterintuitive lessons every new manager has to learn is that it’s not the under-performers you should be spending most of your time with, but your rockstars.
(If this is the first time you’ve heard this, you’re welcome).
Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s Kim Scott in Radical Candor:
‘One of the most common mistakes bosses make is to ignore the people who are doing the best work because “they don’t need me” or “I don’t want to micromanage.” Ignoring somebody is a terrible way to build a relationship.’
If you haven’t thought about this before, now’s the time. Your best people are always in demand, but as record numbers of employees look for new opportunities, they may be more open to a new challenge than ever.
So, if someone’s knocking their work out of the park, how should you ‘manage’ them?
Create novel and challenging experiences: even your high performers (no wait, especially your high performers) are looking for new problems to work on which align with their interests. Be proactive in helping create these opportunities.
Share product and organisational insights: some of the most interesting problems will exist beyond the scope of your team, either within other teams or at a higher level. Share your thoughts on developments elsewhere in your organisation with these individuals, and seek their opinion. Perhaps get their thoughts on a new product launch, or a change in strategy. Not only will this keep them more engaged, but they’ll probably have some interesting ideas!
Who are they surrounded by? Make sure they are in an environment with others they can learn from and be inspired by. If you think that might not be the case in your team, whilst you’re busy hiring some of those people, seek to make introductions to others, even personal contacts outside of your organisation.
Of course, in order to do this successfully you will need some insights into the individuals’ aspirations, interests, and people they want to work with.