How To Coach Star Employees

30.11.18 10:35 PM Comment(s) By Nikole

While teaching a class on leadership, I was discussing how to deliver feedback to under-performing associates. A student in the class posed an interesting question: 

This helps with people who aren't performing, but what about my star employees?

The student went on to explain that she didn't have much to talk about with her star employees. I have seen this as an issue throughout my career; sometimes the top performers become disengaged because they aren't being given enough feedback or ways to grow.


Many times a manager of high-performing employees doesn't have enough to talk with them about, so the manager either 1) doesn't meet with these employees at all or 2) has short meetings where neither party gains much out of the conversation because the manager is afraid of upsetting the employee. As you can see, this strategy can lead to isolation of a great employee and potentially longer-term consequences.

Why coach your best employees

As we covered above, the main reason is to make sure the employee continues to perform. Leaving some employees to do their jobs without any type of feedback or guidance is detrimental to their career development. Some other great reasons to continue to give feedback are:

  • Reinforce good behavior
  • Re-recruit and retain
  • Use high performers to help push good principles to the rest of the staff
  • Continue to help employees grow their career

How do you coach these high-performing employees?

  • Focus on identifying their unique strengths and how to leverage them better
  • Identify an area of growth that will keep them engaged
  • Focus on asking: how can you support him/her? What areas do they want to improve?
  • Give specific feedback on what you see and how you can help.

Your best performing employees are likely putting forth such an effort because they’d eventually like to move into a higher role, new position, or maybe even a different department. And as a manager, you should be excited about helping them achieve those goals—so if you haven’t thought about your star workers’ futures, it’s time to dig in via a one-on-one conversation. Once you find out more about each employee’s goals, you can better mold the way you coach them.

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