What High Performers Want at Work: Supplemental Training


hogh performersSometimes the data is so obvious that not a lot of explanation is necessary. If you are a business leader or a talent management professional and want to understand the most current issues and trends impacting performance, stop what you're doing right now and go read the most recent Harvard Business Review article about what high performers want at work. (Then come back and finish reading this blog for some additional insight on the topic!)

The data that Karie Willyerd and her colleagues at SAP gathered is, in my opinion, game-changing and extremely powerful. We all know that the current and future success of business is in the hands of today's high performers; we need to know what is going to keep them engaged, motivated, and most importantly, performing at our organizations and not someone else's.

Consider the following data points garnered from the article:

  • High performers can be 400% more productive than average performers
  • About 60% of high performers believe they will leave their jobs within the next six months
  • About 62% of high performers are not satisfied with their jobs

Whether you are a business line manager, an HR professional, an executive, or a supplier of talent development solutions, these facts should be terrifying. Basically, most of the high performers in the global workforce are unhappy and ready to leave their jobs. The loss of this talent could be devastating as the functional expertise that accomplishes the daily execution of strategy walk out of the door hand-in-hand with the innovation, customer relationships, and culture that should be driving the future of the business.

The good news coming from this article and the data is that there are things that can be done to prevent high performers from leaving. In order of importance, they are:

  • Competitive compensation
  • Bonuses for performance
  • Retirement plans
  • Supplemental training

Supplemental training? How awesome!

Enhanced compensation, bonuses, and retirement plans are all financially driven and important considerations, but training can be a clear differentiator for organizations that invest in it.

Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of working with high performers and high performing teams in many different industries including chemicals, technology, and financial services. Based on my own observations, I can understand this data presented in this article and agree with it 100%. What I've noticed, and what I find very interesting, is that the type of "supplemental training" that can be provided to keep high performers happy is one of the most important decisions any company can make. The mistake many organizations make is thinking about training as a "checkbox" on a task list and assuming that a high performer is going to stay and be engaged. I actually hypothesize that bad or irrelevant training is worse than no training at all, and can actually accelerate the timeline of high performers moving on to other jobs.

To stimulate some thoughts and insights, here are a few ideas that I would like to share about the type of training high performers want and need to remain happy, engaged, and motivated to stay at your company.

Business Acumen Training

High performers want to be better and more productive than their peers. Developing their business acumen skills is one key way of giving them that ability. In our work with high performers, they view business acumen as a deep dive into topics such as:

  • Strategic thinking and planning
  • Assessing markets and competition
  • Strategic marketing
  • Tactical marketing
  • Financial management
  • Metrics of financial performance
  • Operations alignment and efficiencies
  • Supply chain management
  • Sales effectiveness

Business Leadership Training

High performers want to be better and more effective leaders. Purposefully developing their business leadership skills makes them the best they can be. We believe that business leadership is equal to the execution of business strategy, and making the link between leadership and business acumen is critical to true development in this area. In our work with high performers, we have seen an increased desire for skill development in topic areas that include:

  • Coaching and feedback
  • Delegation
  • Change leadership
  • Leading innovation
  • Performance management
  • Influence

Simulation-Centric Training

Many of the high performers in your organization are Millennials with evolving expectations of what training should look like. Don't make the mistake of throwing some old dusty eLearning at them or sending them to classes where a professor talks at them for eight hours. Instead, give them innovative training tools like simulations that provide a game-like experience, because that's how they like to learn. Include leader boards, badges, and other tools that Millennials expect and respond to. A few examples of simulations we've created to meet the needs of this audience are:

  • A Day in the Life of a New Manager Simulation
  • Leading Change Simulation
  • Fundamentals of Business Leadership Simulation
  • Executing Strategy through Actions Simulation

Follow-Up and Reinforcement Training

Nothing demotivates a high performer more than going to an off-the-shelf training session without follow-up. High performers thirst for additional content, application, practice, and ongoing reinforcement.

Advantexe makes training a continuous experience for high performing audiences, and the results we've seen have been tremendous. From reunion webinars to video-based challenge exercises, our reinforcement tools create a community of learning and encourage skill development over time for these high performers.

While the data from the HBR article make it sound like high performers are more accurately high-risk performers, we think the future is bright for those organizations willing to invest in the right training strategy to meet the specific and evolving needs of this audience. There are a lot of great training ideas and tools available right now, and utilizing the right ones will go a long way to prevent high performers from leaving your organization. So be proactive and engage those employees who you want to lead your business into the future!

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Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.