You’ve had a dealmaker extraordinaire for years. But now they’re gone.
They had strong connections with every key client’s decision makers. Whenever a deal was in danger of going south, you’d fly the dealmaker in to rescue the deal. It worked most times.
The dealmaker joined when your business was in a growth spurt then became the most significant contributor to growth. Over the past fifteen years compensation, bonuses, awards, recognition and the executive team’s attention have kept this high performer in-house. In spite of the star treatment, your star player said, “Enough is enough; it’s over”. Why did this happen?
Leading high achievers is easier than leading high performers. With high performers some of the areas you need to be highly attuned to:
- Career aspirations
- What’s going on in their lives- what’s changing materially or meaning wise
- What influences them or who the influencers are in their lives
- Business change affects such as: culture, directions, or leadership team members
- Marketplace changes and what the competition is doing
In fact, your exec team may have thought of letting the dealmaker go during one of the reorganizations, but were reluctant to cut ties. They were caught up in the old ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ type of thinking. No one had their finger on the pulse, so it was easier to stay with the status quo.
Or you may be caught up in an assumption trap thinking they value what you value. For instance, you have three offspring in university, and they do too. So you assume they are experiencing what you are. Maybe so then again maybe not!
- Many leaders feel their competition clause is a safety net. Yet an employment lawyer will advise an employee just how unenforceable they are.
- The old rules of competitors playing nice have had a seismic shift.
- Employees are staying connected with terminated colleagues who then become influencers.
- Do you know how many awards or raises it takes before they are no longer special or meaningful?
- Has a change in the leadership team caused a culture shift or a disconnect of some kind – you may no longer be the same organization they joined.
There are many factors that can influence one’s thinking and actions. Some happen over time while others happen overnight. Some of the cases I have seen are:
- A child is identified as having a learning difference – navigating the medical and education system becomes an urgent and time consuming priority.
- A teen and friends are involved in a serious car accident – shock and grief take parents in unfamiliar directions.
- A relationship breakup disrupts the status quo and their social circles change.
- A health issue can no longer be ignored and consumes time and energy.
- A financial windfall that has changed what the future looks like.
- Their extensive bucket list has turned a corner.
These can all impact, and you won’t know which one is triggering a change of thought or change of heart unless you are actively listening. Some are obvious while others are hidden. The possibilities list is endless and as unique as the individual themselves.
Keep in mind that anyone who is exceptional at their work will one day change how they measure themselves. What was exciting at one time loses its luster. What was meaningful becomes ordinary. Then they consciously or unconsciously seek something different. They will send subtle clues that you can hear in conversations or notice in their actions.
Remember that high performers have different needs than high achievers. As a leader understanding is not enough. You need to be in tune with the needs of those affected by your leadership. When high performers are critical to the business strategy then being attuned is crucial. Your strategic relationship skills apply internally as well as externally.
How attuned are you to the pulse of their lives, circumstances and influencers?
Perhaps you have a high performer and you’re sensing a change but are unsure what it is? I specialize in management behavior and have worked extensively with high performers and their leaders. I‘d welcome the opportunity to have a discussion with you to interpret the signs or signals you are getting. Contact me at email@example.com or 416.479.9580 to arrange a time to talk.