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Why high performers quit

Why do high performers quit?

Why do high performers quit?

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High performers are some of the company’s most valuable players. Or at least they should be since they often raise overall productivity levels and help achieve goals in a shorter span of time. But what might cause these superstars to feel the urge to leave their job? 

What makes a high performer?

High-performing employees are those who constantly deliver outstanding results. It’s not about performing 20 tasks each day but making sure each of their tasks is completed with the highest quality. This is mainly because the high performer mentality is about taking pride in their work. So, there’s no surprise they’re expecting the same from their team and company. 

“… the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

Jim Collins

That of course doesn’t mean they are constantly looking over their shoulder and comparing everyone else’s performance with their own. They don’t have time for that! And, most high performers know that every person has their own work style and pace. 

High performers vs average performers

Average performers are not bad employees and, let’s face it, not every department can have high-performing teams. Still, when looking at the bigger picture it might be disappointing for high performers to see that other team members that are not pushed as hard are being rewarded in one way or another. 

Especially when they just keep getting more responsibilities because their leader knows they can handle it. According to a 2012 study, high performers are 400 percent more productive than average ones. Meanwhile, a Mckinsey and Company report says that:

“In highly complex occupations—the information- and interaction-intensive work of managers, software developers, and the like—high performers are an astounding 800 percent more productive”

With this in mind, it can also happen that they absorb new responsibilities or tasks from other or former teammates while still expected to keep their high performance in their current job. Trying to keep up with too many responsibilities and results may lead your top performer to burn out. Plus, this may also be frustrating to them if the increased responsibility doesn’t come in hand with a proportional bonus or promotion.

The company culture curse

Company culture can also keep top talent highly engaged or looking for a way out. As part of their nature, high performers are driven to over-deliver, yes, but they also need clarity, feedback, and balance. Having to deal with a toxic work environment or a terrible manager will likely feel like an additional task or an obstacle they have to walk around to get their work done.

If a high performer, because of their results, is always thrown in the mix to solve every issue among teammates or the lack of results from the team without any support, then it should not come as a surprise once they crash under pressure. 

Why do high performers fail to get promoted?

How can high performers reach their full potential when they are spread too thin with no recovery periods? Besides, having no spare time limits their opportunities to grow and learn new skills, which is counterproductive for their career advancement.

So, while their boss will likely appreciate that their performance is always at its peak, they can also be overlooked for filling a different position or simply preferred to be kept in a job that’s giving great results. Some of these high performers will likely talk to their manager about a possible promotion or change to another position. But, if met with a negative response, top performers will end up looking elsewhere.

How can you make sure you keep your high performers?

So, are you doing everything you can to make sure your top performers grow and stay in your company? In our article, Attracting and Motivating High Performers to Work for You, you’ll find more information on what attracts a high performer to stay, but to sum up:

  • Provide the engaging environment they want to work in.
  • Share the spotlight with your high performers.
  • Work your company’s success into their own.
  • Offer roles and projects that will support their career advancement.
  • Recognize their high-performance mentality and drive for continuous learning.
  • Create a plan that rotates them into high-performing teams for support and mentorship.
  • Ensure merit-based promotions by suggesting regular performance reviews.

Keep in mind that this might not be enough and that each person is different, so the biggest advice here would be to directly talk to your high performers to figure out what their wants and needs are so you can provide a custom-made solution.

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