4 Ways to Engage Your High Performer Without Giving a Promotion

So often I hear companies talk about what they’re going to do next to develop a great performer within their company.engage

The most common solution is to promote the employee to a manager. It sounds logical. The employee has been with the company “long enough.” The employee has exceeded expectations in their role. Of course they should be a manager!

What are some signs that making the person a manager might be a bad idea?

  1. He’s not good at managing. Sure, he’s great at what he’s doing right now, but does that mean he’ll rock at managing other people?
  2. Your company is just too young or too small. Within flat organizations, you’ll find limited available management and leadership roles. At larger firms, you’ll find more opportunities for advancement, but it could take years for the person to get there.
  3. The person just doesn’t want to manage. Recent research is finding fewer people who have leadership aspirations.

So what can a company do to recognize the work the employee is doing, without handing out a promotion?

Talk About a Career Path

You may not be able to promote now or even in the next year, but make an effort to show your employees the opportunities that exist in the company today and what might exist in the future.

Explain the expectations of those leadership roles, as well as the experience needed to step into the role. By talking about those areas, help create a career path to lay out what the employee needs to do to get there and how you, as the company, will support him or her along the way.

Say Thank You

Gratitude is a powerful yet rarely used tool to help recognize high-performing employees. Research has shown a more than 50% increase in productivity when people were thanked by somebody who has some degree of oversight over your organization, but less frequent interaction with the person. Getting 50% more from someone by saying two words is an amazing return on investment for all parties.

Create Opportunities to Empower

High achievers need to be challenged. Find opportunities for these employees to be exposed to new projects or training. Involve your best leaders and mentors to share their own expertise and give the employees a chance to learn from your best.

Help Them Outside of Work

Don’t limit your efforts inside your company. Support what they do after hours. If they love travel, look to give them more paid time off or pay for their next trip. If they have a family, allow for a more flexible schedule or sponsor their kid’s soccer team. Encourage your employees to enjoy their work—outside of work.

A promotion doesn’t have to be the only option to recognize a high-performing employee. Creating a path, providing challenges, and supporting them along the way can have a bigger impact in helping the employee get to the destination they, and you, desire.

Mike BensiAs an advisor, Mike Bensi helps organizations build strategies that transform their culture and employee experience, as well as the leaders who support both. His former firefighter skills pay tribute to Mike’s common question, “How can I help you?” when strategizing with a company and its leaders to create a more people-centered experience.  Mike has nearly two decades of progressive management experience within the public and private sectors. And his broad experience working within small companies, global organizations, and the State of Indiana has given him the platform to best understand the needs of clients and how to best serve them.

Mike has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and an MBA from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. He is a well-known speaker on engagement HR, and leadership, and is the author of The Success of Failure. Mike serves his community as a YMCA Athenaeum board member.

Learn how to help your employees develop their careers and flourish at your organization in this blog from Mike!