What employers can do when their top performers become frustrated?

Before we consider what employers can do, we first need to understand what causes top performers to get frustrated at work.

What employers can do when their top performers become frustrated

Many top performers are often held to a different standard to other employees. Any other employee could have an ‘off’ day, when their performance isn’t quite there, or they haven’t been as productive as expected. Should a top performer experience anything like this, their dip in performance is quickly identified and highlighted as not up to scratch, and not up to their usual standard.

Top performers don’t often get the praise and recognition they deserve, despite working hard to achieve and exceed their objectives, their efforts can go unappreciated, leading them to question ‘why bother’. To add salt to the wound, many then feel the unfairness of others not performing to the same standards, and being praised for achieving very little, because their achievement is better than their usual performance.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a manager gaining all the praise for the efforts of their top performer. Some managers have been promoted because of the efforts of their top performers, whilst they had very little, if anything, to do with the results.

One of the aspects of work that allows people to perform at their best is the thought of overcoming a challenge. Top performers thrive on challenges, but as time goes on, they will need a new challenge, otherwise boredom and frustration can quickly set in. They will be yearning the dopamine buzz from success, and for them, there’s nothing worse than having nothing to strive for. 

So, what can employers do to prevent top performers getting frustrated?

Accept that everyone, including top performers might have ‘off’ days. When they do, whilst this might stand out more than others, remember to praise them for their efforts, not just for the outputs or results. Connect with them and help them understand that we all experience these moments, and it’s what helps us appreciate the successes that will come. Top performers are often their own harshest critics, they certainly won’t need someone adding to this. 

It’s important that those who have a mediocre performance, are celebrated when they achieve more, to help motivate them and inspire them to keep up this effort. Top performers are often judged on their results, as opposed to the personal challenges they may have had to overcome to achieve those results. Rather than praising them for the result, ask them what they’re most proud of, and allow them to share what they’ve achieved and how. Be observant and notice how they are working and achieving their results and be ready to share this with them, so they feel their efforts are recognised.

Top performers love getting results and solving problems. Give them some of the big challenges that could really make a difference to overall performance and ensure that everyone is aware what they are working on. As managers, it’s important to support and guide them where needed and let them have their moment in the spotlight, where their successes are celebrated with senior leaders, allowing them to be recognised for their great work. 

Finally, it’s not always obvious when top performers are getting frustrated. It’s easy to think they don’t need regular check-ins and support that others may need. This can lead them to feeling neglected, with poor performers getting more attention. By spending regular time with them, it will allow employers to identify when they may be becoming frustrated, and support their development, allowing them to maximise their full potential in their roles. 

Amrit Sandhar
Amrit Sandhar

Share via
Copy link