Your high-achieving all-stars drive 65% or more of your business success.  They go after goals, seek constant improvement, and work with a focus that could cut through steel better than a laser.

They’re great, really great, and the more of them you have, the more money you’re likely to make.

THEY ARE ALSO A HUGE PAIN. Demanding, arrogant, lone-wolf, know-it-alls who need constant care and feeding, your high-achievers are a full-time job.

Maybe that’s why we do such a terrible job managing and keeping them.

  • 20% of high-achievers believe their personal goals are very different from your goals for them
  • 25% believe they will be working for another organization this time next year
  • 30% of high-achievers admit to not putting their best effort into their job
  • 40% of high-achievers have little confidence in their co-workers and even less confidence in the senior team
  • 40% of high-achiever promotions end in failure.
  • 50% of high-achievers are looking for their next great thing right now
  • 70% of high-achievers don’t have all the skills they need to be successful in future roles

Let’s explore the top five reasons your all-stars are making your life hard, and what you can do to turn things around.

Reason 1 – They Crave Challenges And Victories!

High-achievers are motivated to win. They want to achieve something important. They believe initiative, effort, and persistence are the keys to success. They will work for it, too, because they believe their success is up to them.

They want to be your go-to hitter when the bases are loaded in the bottom of the 9th and the game’s on the line.

Call their number. Put them in the game.

Assign them your most important work. Give them your toughest, biggest project. Give them really aggressive goals. Make them a leader of a committee or safety council. The more challenging the work, the wider the recognition, the more satisfied your high-achievers will be.

Reason 2 – They Can’t Be Managed Or Led.

Inspired? Yes. Motivated? Yes. Nagged? Attacked? Ridden? Bossed? Told? Manipulated? NO!

High-achievers believe they are the smartest person in the room. No one is better or smarter. Managing them is practically impossible. Joining them is also a no-go.

That leaves you with inspiration or motivation. Offer them something meaningful like a write up on their success in the company newsletter, or a chance for them to share their success over lunch with a larger group.

Anything that celebrates them and their accomplishments – the more public the better – will be a home run for your all-stars.

Reason 3 – They Want You To Want Them.

They don’t just want it, they need it. They need to feel valued, and if you don’t deliver, they will find another team who does.

What makes them feel wanted? Lots of recognition and a clear career path for starters. Praise often, talk future vision, and then praise some more.

Remember this, high-achievers are more confident than all others. They KNOW they can go find another job anywhere, so if you want them to stick around, you’ve got to make them want to stick around.

[Concerned you might be missing the mark here? There’s one quick and easy way to know for sure. Ask each of your high-achievers the following question: What would cause you to take a job with another company tomorrow? Their answers will help you know their true engagement level, plus the important things you need to work on to keep your heavy hitters around.]

Reason 4 – It’s Hard To Tell When They’re Drowning

Your all-stars can get in over their heads, just like everyone else. The difference is high-achievers are great at hiding their struggles. They are also terrible at asking for help.

They may be near death before you even have a clue anything is wrong!

Frequent progress reports, visual dashboards, and barrier-busting meetings can help you keep a finger on their pulse without over-managing.

Reason 5 – Always Be IMPROVING

You’ve heard the salesman’s mantra, “Always Be Closing,” well, the all-star’s mantra is always be improving.

They need your help to make this happen, but don’t wait for them to ask, because they won’t.

You need to take the lead. Set up regular feedback meetings with your high-achievers to help them continually improve.

Schedule weekly to biweekly connections and share your thoughts for improvement using the start-keep doing-stop model.  Make these quick, standing meeting – 15 to 30 minutes max. Schedule monthly deeper dives to really dig in to what’s working, what’s not working, and what you can do to help them achieve their goals.

Your all-stars have plenty of options. Aggressive recruiting by headhunters and tools like LinkedIn make it easy for them to declare their free agency at any time.

How can you keep all-stars in your line up? Nurture them. Build in to them. Give them the freedom to achieve, and the support they need to be successful. The investment of your time and energy is a big one, and so is the pay off.

3 Problems Great Leaders Master
Are You Leading The Way With Leader Pay?
The REAL War For Talent – Is Your Talent Talented Enough?
The REAL War For Talent – Are You Battle Ready?


Harvard Business Review | How To Keep Your Top Talent
Psychology Today | How Do High Achievers Really Think? | How To Manage High Achievers | Managing High Achievers


[LEFT IMAGE] Image by shan213 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
[RIGHT IMAGE] Image by Keith Allison under CC BY-SA 2.0