How to manage a highly productive team: top performers and key aspects

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We all know that managing a team is not easy. When then, in the group there are also top performers, the situation becomes even more complicated.

Yet a highly productive team is a great advantage for everyone as long as one can manage it.

Let’s see then how to manage the top performers for the benefit of the group and the project itself!

Top performers represent the elite troops of any organization. Few, highly esteemed and sometimes difficult to manage, they represent a great corporate value.

Studies have shown that top performers, on average, reach 400% more than the average employee in the companies in which they work.

Let’s try to analyze them better.

The characteristics of a top performer

Positivity: the top performers tend to have a positive attitude towards everything.

They believe that through hard work, concentration and persistence there is little they can not accomplish.

This vision not only helps them overcome difficult situations, but also inspires the people around them to support them in their missions.

Having a growth mentality: top performers are always looking for ways in order to learn new skills, refine existing ones and learn from their mistakes.

This mentality allows them to find innovative solutions to the most complicated problems and makes them also highly flexible and adaptable.

In short, they follow the concept “you never stop learning”.

Do, not talk: these people are incredibly result-oriented.

They live to accomplish things and want to demonstrate to themselves and others that they can complete the most demanding tasks and projects.

In general, they do not waste time in chatter, but they focus on doing.

Self-taught: the drive to reach the goals and to act comes from the deep and it is almost never necessary to encourage them.

They have their own agenda and are ready to show themselves and others what they can do.

Hard workers: often they do not even seem to notice the hours that pass.

You may receive e-mails, reports, questions and worksheets at impossible times, on weekends and on public holidays (sent from them)

Their drive to progress, improve and complete things regardless of time and public holidays.

Moreover, their performances are not sporadic, they are continuous and consistent over time.

Constructive feedback: top performers are always looking for improvements.

Getting constant and constructive feedback is a fundamental part of this process, and they expect it.

Learning also outside the organization: not only do these people seek approval from managers and colleagues, but they also look outside the organization for elements and advice that they can use in order to become even better at their jobs.

Top performers management

Once we have seen the characteristics that, on average, we find in all the top performers, let’s now see how a project manager can deal with them.

As we have mentioned, a top performer can be difficult to manage, but with the following suggestions it will certainly be easier to establish a good working relationship.

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Agree upon clear goals and align expectations

With top performers it is essential to be clear when defining goals.

These goals should be agreed on both sides and be measurable.

It is possible to use a framework, such as the SMART one, in order to both agree on specific, measurable, responsible, relevant and binding goals.

In general, however, as well as for any worker, it is necessary to ensure that the goals are ambitious, but not unattainable.

In this case, in fact, even a top performer could quickly lose motivation and confidence towards himself, towards the boss, in the project and in the company in general.

Offer them the tools in order to succeed

The role of the project manager is to set up a strategy, provide direction and give employees the resources they need in order to succeed.

It is therefore important to ensure that the top performers within the team have the tools they need (people, budget, training, etc.).

Get out of the way (Let them be free)

Once agreement is reached on the goals and the necessary tools are provided, a manager must leave the top performers completely free to act.

These high-level employees love their freedom and autonomy to do things the way they want. If they need help, they will ask for it.

If the manager continues to disturb them, they will feel frustrated and the situation could quickly get worse.

Plan meetings

Top performers are extremely allergic to non-productive meetings, whatever they are.

It is therefore necessary to make sure that you have a clear agenda and know how to manage meetings in a productive way.

The “1 to 1” meetings should help to find out what obstacles the top performers are facing, where they need help, if they need more resources, or if there are important changes that could affect their priorities.

The 1-1 is also a great opportunity to provide constructive feedback, highly appreciated by top performers, as said before.

These meetings can also be an opportunity to make sure that the top performer is focused on the “right” projects. He could, in fact, be distracted by other requests or new projects that awaken his interests.

Provide growth opportunities

As explained above, growth is like oxygen for top performers.

The growth can come from online courses, work on part time projects in other teams or even attend a part time course at a local university.

A lack of clear growth opportunities can be particularly frustrating for top performers. It often becomes a reason why they look for their future elsewhere.

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Gather players of the same level

One of the best ways to motivate top performers is to surround them with other au pair workers.

This is one of the main reasons why people stay in companies like Google or Amazon.

Top performers want to surround themselves with others of the same caliber. They want to be able to learn from them and improve the overall success of the team.

Encourage them to decompress

These people are like high-performance sports cars, they will continue to go to the maximum, as long as possible, until they run out of gasoline.

The problem is that some of them can stress a lot and even suffer from burnout.

As a manager, it is important to pay attention on how they feel, both physically as well as psychologically.

Having “burned” one of them is not only unpleasant for the person, but also means increasing and complicating the workload of the rest of the team that can no longer rely on the driving engine.

Work to trace a path for career advancement

Top performers are willing to invest more time and energy than many other collaborators, but they are also often more demanding and more ambitious.

With these people, it is important to discuss regularly on the progress of work role and on a possible increase of role with tangible and agreed metrics that must be respected by both parties.

It is therefore necessary to ensure that these progress metrics are in line with human resource policies. It will also be necessary to ensure that there is an internal support when the moment of promotion arrives.

Finding and hiring top performers is certainly difficult, keeping these people loyal to the company is even more so.

We hope these suggestions can make this process a little easier.

Have you ever found yourself in front of a top performer? Did you manage him/her? What were the most complicated situations you experienced in this sense? Tell us about your experience.

Coordinate your top performers effectively.

A try is worth more than a million words.

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