Superstar performers need superstar coaches! They have a higher level of engagement and skill, and they need and deserve a deeper coaching relationship that adds value and growth beyond their current level. And if not engaged or challenged, they will eventually take their amazing aptitude elsewhere.
What do we need to differently with High-Po’s and Top Performers? Tailor your approach! Here are Tips for how to Tailor different areas of your coaching conversation:
Spend more time making a personal connection. Get to know their drive and motivations; demonstrate interest in them or their skills!
Ask open probing questions. What makes them feel valued, what they most like to contribute, where they want to go next, why they enjoy this work, etc.
Make it specific. Pay attention, notice specific work, attitudes, and/or communications, ask others for feedback.
Make it genuine and meaningful. Too superficial or simple and it can damage trust
Make them feel good. Tell them what you appreciate or love about it – before you wish you had!
Find meaningful opportunities. You have to work harder to identify what needs work at their skill level; too superficial or simple and it will appear condescending or that you’re unable to teach them
Focus on growth, stretch or value-add activities. There are less 'corrective' opportunities, so discuss instead how they can stretch, be challenged, or add value/expertise for the rest of the team
Use open, exploratory questions:
Ask them to deconstruct how they did something rather than assume it was a mistake. Instead of, “Why do you think it’s important that we show empathy to our customers?” you could ask, “What do you think of when you hear the word empathy?”, or, “Can you think of a time when someone showed empathy to you?”
Ask them to define a concept. Instead of asking, “Why do you think we ask you to summarize? You could say/ask instead, “I know you nearly always summarize; was there something in this scenario that caused you not to?”
Challenge Them. How do you think you could leverage your expertise for the benefit of the team?”, or, “How could you support our new hires?” or simply, “What would you like to focus on going forward?”
Don’t over-question. They often self-resolve very quickly; don’t beat a dead horse!
Commitments and Next Steps
Don’t be too formal. It’s easy to insult High-Po’s and Top Performers with very formal language or short follow-through timelines. They’re self-driven and accountable, so generally, you want to:
Use less specific actions
Use less formal language
Check in or back less frequently
Best practice is learning to adjust to the person you’re coaching and vary your approach to what is needed and appropriate – like when to push versus when not to, when to dig deeper versus when to stay topical, etc.