5 High Performer Talent Management Blunders to Avoid

3 cartoon businessmen are on a cliff; one is blindfolded and about to fall off

Don’t let your top talent be tempted to go elsewhere. Smart leaders keep high performing employees engaged and productive right where they are…at your organization. They are your most valuable asset and should be a major component of your competitive advantage. Do not risk losing your best employees by making the following most common mistakes where top talent is concerned:

Talent Management Mistake #1: Giving managers the sole responsibility for developing high performers
Yes, line managers are the ones who know their team members best and can identify their high potentials. But, no, they are not the ones who typically have the time or the expertise to guide the training or hone the talents of their more promising employees. Get development help from the experts…either senior managers who can act as mentors or specialized performance coaches who know how to enhance strengths and improve weaknesses that matter most for you and your business.

Talent Management Mistake #2: Assuming top talent will continue to succeed in ever more challenging roles
A few will prosper, but many will not. On average, only a small percentage of your current high performers will be able to adapt to and excel in successively more difficult roles. They may be high performers at their current job…in a role they know well and are perfectly suited for. You can’t just promote them and expect they will continue to succeed within a new context with higher expectations, greater visibility and more complexity. They need to develop the specific competencies for their new role and have the consistent support needed to succeed.

Talent Management Mistake #3: Protecting top talent from failure
The best leaders have learned how to deal with failure. They accept it as part of any career, bounce back, and reflect upon how to avoid it next time around. Give your high performers an opportunity to learn and grow from mistakes. This is how they will learn to face difficulties, test hypotheses, and rebound better, faster and cheaper than before. They need to be tested in the real world and prove their ability to grow and adapt. Do not over protect them.

Talent Management Mistake #4: Expecting that high performers are highly engaged
Unfortunately, high performers are not necessarily highly engaged employees. In fact, they often have lower levels of advocacy, discretionary effort and retention. All too often, high performers are at risk for leaving because they don’t feel that their personal goals are well aligned with the goals of the organization or because they don’t feel that their coworkers are as capable as they should be. In fact, according to our latest employee engagement research, almost 30% of high performers intend to leave their current companies within the next twelve months. This should be a huge red flag for any talent leader.

Make sure that you always know what your top talent wants and needs to stay highly engaged. Start by defining a growth path for their future and see that there is reason for them to be confident in the talents and commitments of leadership and their team members. Then ensure that there is a match between their personal agenda and the corporate goals.

Talent Management Mistake #5: Being indiscriminate in compensation plans
Top performers generally work harder and are significantly more effective than the other workers on their team. They rightfully feel they deserve to be fairly compensated for their extra effort and productivity. If you don’t find a way to compensate them above others, they will quickly become discouraged and feel unappreciated. Make sure that your high performers feel as though the rewards they receive are commensurate with their contribution.

The Bottom Line
Winning organizations know that different employees contribute differently to their success. Because of this, smart leaders do what it takes to attract, develop, engage and retain their best talent. Especially for companies that rely on their people to succeed, performance depends on designing and implementing the right talent strategy.

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