3 Tips for Giving Feedback to High Performers

Meredith Wholley
4 min readJul 21, 2021

This article on giving feedback to high performers was originally written in February 2017. All relevant copy and statistics have been updated as of February 2021.

Giving feedback to any of your employees can seem like a daunting task, but when it comes to high performers, things can get a little more complex. Although it may be tempting to focus more on employees who need more help, you can’t ignore your high performers. You don’t want to be standing over their shoulder, micromanaging every move they make, but how much feedback is the right amount, and what should it include?

If you have ever felt unsure how to best support your high performer’s professional development, you’re not alone: 68% of employees say their managers aren’t actively engaged in developing their professional skills. These three tips will help you find the right balance and start coaching your high performers for further professional growth.

1. Be Frequent.

The standard once-a-year review doesn’t usually provide enough feedback for any employees, let alone high performers. Your goal is always to retain top talent, so your check-ins with high performers should be frequent. In fact, 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. That frequency may not be realistic for large corporations, but managers should make a point to have one-on-ones with their employees (especially high performers) at least once a month.

As Millennials begin to make up a higher percentage of the workforce, the frequency of feedback will make an even more significant impact on high performers. By 2025, experts estimate that Millennials will make up 3/4ths of the workforce. HR leaders need to find ways to attract and retain these employees in order to stay competitive. One thing that Millennials want out of an employer is consistent and constructive feedback — 42% of Millennials want feedback on a weekly basis. Finding ways to provide consistent feedback will help you retain your A Players and will give you a competitive advantage in your recruiting efforts.

Bonus Material: The key to giving feedback is ensuring your feedback is useful and actionable. Check out our step-by-step guide to giving feedback that’s actually valuable for advice on how to get started.

2. Give Examples.

Your feedback for high performers should be specific and actionable. Using generic phrases like, “You’re doing great here,” doesn’t necessarily help to improve their work abilities or professional skills. Ambiguity can also lead to employees misinterpreting feedback. Transparency in your communication and feedback can help to clarify your critiques, leaving less room for misunderstanding. When you consider that employees who see performance reviews as inaccurate are 2x more likely to look for another job, it becomes clear how important specific feedback is.

Instead of saying, “You need to be more innovative.” try saying, “Take an hour out of your week to research ways you can improve your processes and department.” Your high-performing employees will appreciate the specific feedback and now have an actionable item to follow through with before your next check-in. Providing employees with a particular task or action item that can yield measurable results shows them what kind of an impact their efforts have on the organization as a whole. Since 68% of employees who receive accurate and consistent feedback feel fulfilled in their jobs, adopting this standard for consistent and specific feedback will encourage greater employee engagement.

3. Help Them Develop.

Be sure your feedback for high performers is actively helping them with their professional development. Just because an employee is high-performing doesn’t mean they aren’t still interested in personal and professional improvement. The trick to creating a highly developed and engaged workforce is for managers to act as coaches. In organizations with a coaching culture, employees are highly engaged and motivated.

To support your high-performing employees, you may consider creating a leadership development program. In a recent study, 87% of millennials said professional development or career growth opportunities were very important to them. Finding ways to implement coaching and developing opportunities into your workplace will be essential for retaining your high-performers.

Tip: The most challenging aspect of creating a development program can be identifying candidates, so with your high performers, you’re already a step ahead! The next thing you need to do is communicate with your top performers to identify their professional and personal goals and determine how they align with the company’s overall mission.

When it comes to managing and coaching your high-performers, remember that the best kind of feedback you can give them is timely, specific, and actionable. High-performing employees are your company’s greatest asset. They are more likely to be highly engaged, and companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue. In addition to this, creating strong professional development initiatives in your organization can result in a larger profit margin.

ClearCompany can help you to manage the performance of your workforce through our award-winning performance management platform. Our fully customizable software allows your organization to pick and choose what feedback approaches work best for your current processes. With our integration capabilities, you can rest assured that your current technology and tools will effectively communicate and collaborate with one another. For more information about how ClearCompany will help to enhance the quality of feedback you provide to your high-performers, reach out to one of our experts and schedule your free demo now.

This article was originally posted on the ClearCompany blog.



Meredith Wholley

As a Digital Marketing and Events Manager for ClearCompany, Meredith coordinates best-practice content and brand-awareness events with HR practitioners.