Managing Top Talent with Individuality

Think top talent is highly motivated by compensation? Think again. "In my 36-year career, I haven’t met a single person truly at the top end of the talent distribution who is highly motivated by compensation. Not one,” says Roger L. Martin, former Dean of Rotman School of Management in his latest Harvard Business Review article.

While, yes, there are those employees that thrive on the idea of growing a company’s “perceived value” for quick and dirty monetary reasons, Martin argues that those employees are not the top talent that truly make an organization great for an extended period of time. We agree.

According to Martin, managing top talent requires 3 things:

1. Treat Your Talent as Individuals

Employees want to feel that they are being treated as individuals, and not part of a “class”. They want to be seen for the unique talents they possess and the unique life that they live. Managers who treat their employees well, but don’t acknowledge each individual as an individual may not be getting the responses they were hoping for..

2.Provide Opportunity Continuously

Top talent want to rise to the top, and without the opportunity to take on more responsibility, they will simply go where there is more opportunity. Knowing how much extra responsibility and when, is another scenario that is based on the individual.

3.Give Praise

Top talent likely seem to be okay without praise. After all, they’re hard works and already intrinsically motivated enough to get them to the point that they are. However, with the often tough work that they’re doing, the top talent can easily get resentful of the organization without praise. They’re offering their time and talent, and need to know that it’s valued. Once again, you need to know and understand the individual behind the talent to give praise in a way that matters.

These rules of thumb, simple as they may sound, require that you truly know your team. Not only the top talent, but all talent. With Cloverleaf you can take the guesswork of out of understanding your team members and truly tap into their individuality. We do this by reinforcing aspects of their personality, strengths and cultural preferences in the flow of a manager's day to day activities. Whether it is positioning someone into a stretch assignment or having a tough coaching conversation, Cloverleaf puts key characteristics of your people front and center. To get started, create a free account for your team at