7 Things Your Rock-Star Employees Want to Hear You Say
Karin Hurt and David Dye are keynote speakers and the award-winning authors of Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul. 
These are all real statements I’ve heard in the last few weeks: “We focus on call center reps who are struggling. We’re not worried about observing our high-performing reps. “John has his job down cold. He doesn’t need more training.” “Well, he’s a bit a rough around the edges, but we overlook that. He’s so good at his job, we’re afraid to tick him off.” “Oh Sally’s good. She loves what she does. Thank God for her. She just likes to be left alone to do her thing.” I get it. Your high-performance employees never seem like the MIT. (Most Important Thing). They’ve got it. They don’t complain. You can count on them. They’re capable and don’t appear to want your help. You’ve got bigger issues on your plate. But the truth is, when I meet with such high-performers and ask what they need, here’s what they tell me they long for from their boss.
True high-performers almost always want to achieve more. New challenges can help them grow. Ask deeper questions. Inspire them to get past the mundane.
What Your High Performing Employees Long to Hear You Say Wow! Thank you.   “Wow” is a highly under-used word in corporate setting. It’s okay to be impressed. No one’s going to slack off because you were impressed with his or her work.  A big “Wow” followed by a genuine and heartfelt “Thank You” from someone a high-performer respects will trump almost any token of appreciation you can offer. I know what you’re doing isn’t easy. I’d love to hear more.   No matter how easy they make it look, it’s not. They would love to tell you some stories. And the stories are worth your time. Pull up a chair and listen. Your high-performing employees are dealing with all kinds of crap that they’re not sharing with you and may doubt you’d understand it. Can you show me how you did that? This is an excellent way to discover best practices. Think about the last time you figured something out that you were wildly proud of. What did you long for most? For me, I know it’s someone to share it with. Ask for details and if you’re amazed, show that. Big turnarounds can begin by asking a few high-performers what they’re up to. What could we be doing to better serve our customers? They are the ones who know the deal. If you truly care about the customer experience ask this question, listen and do what you can to take action on the response. What’s getting in your way? Every time I’ve asked this question I’ve been surprised about some of the easy asks. Just because they’re low maintenance, doesn’t mean they don’t have a list. No, you can’t fix everything. But if you can fix a few small things getting in the way of your highest performers, can you imagine the ROI? What do you want to do next?   High-performers want to know you care about them as much (or more than) the work. Make that clear. I want to help you do even better. True high-performers almost always want to achieve more. New challenges can help them grow. Ask deeper questions. Inspire them to get past the mundane. Not every high-performer is looking to be promoted. And that’s fine. You need rock stars in every role. But every high-performer is human and longs for appreciation, connection, and wants to be heard. It’s so easy to direct our attention to the folks who need our help the most. Be sure to pay attention to your top 20% as well. Your turn. What do you find high-performing employees most long to hear you say?
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