Some employees are pretty stellar! They get their work done efficiently, usually without much coaching or guidance required. Maybe they don’t have a fancy title, but they are the glue that holds teams together. They are the go-to person for answers because they’re extremely knowledgeable about multiple areas of the business. But what happens when these stars aren’t seen, when their contributions go unrecognized and unrewarded? The short answer is that they eventually burn out and leave.
Star Employees Need Support Too
Good leaders build their businesses by building up their employees. Too often, however, it’s the squeaky wheels that get our attention — the problem employees, the newbies, etc. It can be all too easy to take those team members that quietly and reliably produce outstanding work for granted. But no one wants the constant stress of continually putting in the hours away from family and friends without an ounce of acknowledgment.
When I talk about acknowledgment, I don’t mean simply praising them or promoting them. True, that might be part of the answer. The real first step, however, is understanding employees’ workloads and not overwhelming them.
Business today is all about collaboration. That’s a great thing for a diverse society. But often the same key employees are bombarded with questions and tasks from multiple directions. They are the go-to person for help, but who offers to help them? Even the best performer will eventually burn out if they face an endless workload! Additionally, the same work ethic that makes them stand-out performers may also make them less likely to ask for help or to say “no” to unreasonable demands.
Nurture and Protect Your Top Performers
To help these employees, leaders must be self-aware and nurture their go-to employees in a few ways:
- Talk to employees, and find out what’s on their plate.
- During meetings with leaders from other teams, discuss which employees on your team they are reaching out to. Chances are a pattern will emerge.
- Examine workloads more closely. Is an employee always “on-call?” Are they connected to work at all times? Determine whether this is really necessary and work with the employee to help them better balance work and personal life.
- Advocate for the employee who can’t say no. Ensure that others also respect their contributions and time. Discourage overuse.
- Recognize the warning signs of burnout.
Burnout is on the Increase
Across our society, burnout is happening more and more. This is largely due to the constant connection to other people, including work colleagues, that mobile communication allows. Consequently, we have to help employees, especially great employees, avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Retaining good employees is just as important as finding them for several reasons. Hiring and training new employees takes time and costs money. Additionally, top performers may take knowledge and skills that aren’t easily replaced with them. True leaders must dedicate themselves to nurturing employees throughout their careers if both individuals and the business are to thrive and grow.