These are the employees that firm owners dream about – ambitious, self-starters, performance-driven. They can help take your business to the next level. But they can also be a handful if you don’t know how to manage them.
Here are 5 tips for managing high-performance employees (HPE) that will hopefully keep them gainfully employed at your firm for years to come:
Your HPEs want to fail. This may sound funny or strange, but it’s true. They’re not afraid to try something, fail, then try again a different way. Think riding a bike. You do something over and over again until you get it right. HPEs want to fail quickly and learn from their mistakes. What does this mean for you? These employees aren’t satisfied with only one performance evaluation every 12 months. Experiment with daily or weekly meetings to go over assignments in minute detail.
Once a HPE has mastered a particular skill, they want to move on to learning the next skill, and you'd better be ready to provide that challenging assignment or they’ll get bored and complacent. One way to track if a HPE might become complacent while performing a particular task is to use reports and dashboards from your project management software. With BQE Core, for example, you can look at your employee's performance screen to check in on their utilization, effective cost rate, and so much more.
Return of the apprenticeship
HPEs aren’t just happy with a job well done. They also want to learn the “why” behind what is done at your firm. Consider allowing HPEs to shadow you and other executives during client and staff meetings (they want to learn from the smartest people in your firm). After the meeting, allow time for a question and answer session to discuss what the HPE observed.
Provide a clear career path
HPEs want to know what they need to do to take the next step in their career. They don’t want to wait 10 years to “come up through the ranks.” Promotions are all merit-based in the minds of HPEs – “Tell me what skills I need to master to get promoted.” Even if HPEs disagree with part of your firm’s career pathway, they will appreciate having a clear understanding of what benchmarks need to be met to keep climbing the ladder.
Understand their career path
“High-performance” doesn’t always equal “I want to be a partner.” Some HPEs do want to be a part-owner in a firm one day. Others may be comfortable as a career manager. Still others may enjoy a role in the administrative department. It’s your job to understand which path your employee wants to be on.
It may seem like a dream to have an employee who wants to go above and beyond a “clock-in and clock-out” 40-hour work week – someone who wants to learn your firm inside-and-out. But be careful what you wish for. You can’t treat these high-performance employees like other employees who “just show up to get a paycheck.”
It’s imperative to provide constant feedback, schedule them to work on challenging assignments, include them in meetings to shadow firm leadership and understand their career objectives.