Which members of your team do you spend the most time with?  If you are the manager, then the natural thing to do is to delegate tasks to the best people and let them get on with the job.  This then frees you to spend more time with the poorer performers who need the most help and support.  This might be the obvious approach, but it can also be the wrong approach.

How would you feel if you went in to work tomorrow and your very best employee came in to see you with her resignation, and when you ask why, she says, “I have accepted a senior position at another company.  I liked the work here but I never felt appreciated or involved in decision-making.  It was good that I could get on with my job, but no-one asked me my opinion on strategic issues for the department or the company.” You try telling her how much you value her contribution, but by now it’s too late; her mind is made up.  Top performers want to the freedom to get on with the job.  They do not need to be micro-managed—in fact, they resent it—but that does not mean they should be ignored or taken for granted.

Empowering

Empowering your best people is important.  You should delegate responsibility and give them the freedom to accomplish their tasks, but don’t ignore them.  Meet them regularly to discuss their progress, their ideas, their issues and their plans, and use your managerial authority to help overcome the difficulties that are impeding them from achieving even more. You could share some of the bigger departmental challenges with them and ask their input; ask their opinions and involve them in key decisions.  Above all, you should praise them when they do well, let them know how important they are to you, and how much you value their contribution to the team.

Devote time for junior members

You have to spend time with the junior members and weaker performers of your team; they need coaching and support, but don’t let this get out of hand.  Devote time and support to a poor performer, agree on an improvement plan with them, and monitor their progress.  Discuss the plan and their performance with your HR manager, and if they fail to improve or consistently under-perform, then they should go.  You cannot afford to have them draining your time and pulling down the team’s performance.

SEE ALSO: How to Manage a Staff That’s Overworked

Balance

Aim for a balanced approach.  Spend time with every member of the team, getting to know their interests, frustrations, ambitions and job –related issues.  A good manager understands their team both as a group, and as individuals.  Every employee has different motivations, likes, dislikes, hopes and fears, and as a manager, you should know what motivates every person in your office.  Why do they come to work?  Every individual wants to be listened to and appreciated.

Listening

Most managers spend too much time telling and too little time listening.  They focus too much on their weakest subordinates without a clear plan for improvement.  They could get much more done with their team by listening more, fixing the things that hold people back and praising people for good performance.  Praise and encouragement are great things for weaker staff when they make improvements, but they are also important for the top performers who can often feel taken for granted and unappreciated.  Make sure that your best people know how much you value them.

RELATED: The Role of the Manager

Featured photo credit: Conference table and chairs in meeting room via Shutterstock

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