Business & Economy

Monday, 01 June 2009 13:01

Halt in-house saboteurs

{pp}Ways to retain highly motivated and driven talent.

The Tall Poppy Syndrome is a new way of re-stating an old idea: it refers to our tendency to cut down people we feel are too big for their boots. Lopping off the heads of your tall poppies (your firm's high achievers) is certainly a strategy to avoid, but how does an employer keep these sometimes difficult, but worthwhile, flowers blooming?

If you manage or work with high achievers you are probably already aware of the characteristics that define them. These are the employees whose intense self-focus is on personal performance and their development is closely aligned to self-imposed, extreme goal-driven behaviour to which they are totally committed.

"The individuals are constantly in search of new and better ways of doing things" says Michelle Clarke, CEO of Michelle Clarke Coaching. "It is therefore not surprising that they often seek greener pastures", Clarke continues.

These greener pastures may well be new opportunities at other companies.

"Given that employers spend large amounts of money and energy attracting these individuals, it makes sense for employers to create environments where these gifted individuals can thrive," continues Clarke.

While offering more money, bonuses, or other perks may work with some high achievers, others may simply be scanning the horizon for the next big challenge. How does one satiate this need? One answer is personalised coaching and mentoring.

Personalised coaching comes as a package and can be the solution to the problem of keeping your high achievers happy. For high achievers, mentoring from a professional business coaching consultant can keep their goals at an enticing distance while at the same time meshing their needs with required business outcomes. For employers, it can create a cadre of stimulated employees who are enthusiastic about directing their energies in creative and dynamic ways.

"Coaching for high achievers should be focussed on clear and central goals, and coaches need to be especially sensitive to their clients' personal performance and developmental needs," notes Clarke.

Attention to detail and the ability to give consistent and meaningful feedback are just two of the skills needed. Thorough knowledge of the goal setting process and a high level of self-assurance are paramount. In short, to coach and mentor these employees one needs to be well acquainted with the kind of energy that drives them.

According to a study of financial analysts conducted between 1988 and 1997, published in July 2008, research has shown that firms which had hired "star performers" from other firms often felt disappointed by their new employees' abilities. After nine years of studying empirical evidence, the researchers concluded that the performance of a talented worker depends in part on the "human capital embedded in colleague relationships and firm capabilities." Star performers themselves, they concluded, were an "imperfect mobile resource".

In a new twist on the nature/nurture debate, nurturing your high achieving employees may be just as important as the nature of the environment in which they work. Fortunately for everyone, personal and business coaching is a way to do both.

Michelle Clark is a personal and business coach based in Cape Town, South Africa. She offers consulting and mentorship to business owners, coaches and executives, helping her clients to hone and develop their personal and professional identities.

Contact information:
Michelle Clarke Coaching
tel: 021 674 6875
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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