How to Handle High Achievers in the Workplace

In most workplaces, there are people that can be categorized as high achievers. Such people are very ambitious, self-motivated and results driven. As such, they need very little supervision to succeed in their jobs.

So, how can you identify high achievers in your team?

  • They display natural leadership abilities and frequently take charge of situations
  • High achievers are always looking for opportunities to develop their professional expertise
  • They take responsibility for their actions
  • High achievers are self-disciplined and have a long term focus. When they set a goal, they work at it until the task is completed
  • They have a positive attitude towards life. Complex projects and tasks are viewed as opportunities rather than threats

With these qualities, high achievers can be a great asset to any team. However, managing such individuals can be very challenging. Most of them are unwilling to delegate tasks since they believe they are the only ones qualified to get it done. Others are too competitive and end up causing stress in the team. High achievers can also intimidate other team members with their aggressiveness.

Here are some suggestions for handling high achievers effectively:

1. Clarify expectations

From the onset, your high achievers should understand the organization’s goals and what is expected of them. In addition, you need to show them how their performance will be measured. This will enable them to align their personal ambitions with the goals of the organization

2. Offer special assignments

To ensure that your high achievers don’t get stuck with mundane tasks, give them special assignments which will stretch their skills. This could be training new recruits, initiating new ventures or heading task forces and departmental committees. Such additional responsibilities will give your high achievers a chance to shine.

3. Make it interesting

High achievers love working on tasks which are stimulating. You could consider carrying out a SWOT analysis on each of them to get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. This way, you can assign projects which will help them maximize their strengths. To enhance their skills, you could consider cross training them so that they can take up other roles in the organization.    

4. Accept failure

Most high achievers suffer from the fear of failure. Since they are more known for their great achievements, they have an innate fear of making mistakes. As a result, they are likely to stick to familiar tasks and avoid new challenges and risky projects. Therefore, you need to find a way of helping your high achievers deal with the fear of failure. Encourage them to take risks and reassure them when they fail.

5. Offer feedback

Many high achievers don’t care much about praise or compliments. Instead, they want constructive criticism which will push them to greater achievement. Therefore, take time to offer regular feedback to your high achievers. Be sure to balance your compliments with constructive criticism.

Depending on how they are handled, high achievers can either be a blessing or a burden to your team. The above tips will help you make the most of these unique individuals.


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