A Question for High Performers
Sometimes, high performers are highly sensitive to critique of any kind, especially after a poor performance. They bristle at even discussing the performance. They push away valuable feedback.
As a result of being accustomed to performance success, this sensitivity serves as a defensive attempt to prevent others from lowering their confidence. Ironically, it is immediately after a weak showing that insight into what happened and why is so valuable. As a leader, how do you push high performers to reflect on poor performance, without them turning bitterly away from your intended help?
Ask them this simple question: What did you learn?
This question carries unequal weight with those who are mad at themselves or embarrassed by their performance. Even when they refuse to engage or answer the question, this query stays with them and produces the necessary reflection needed for improvement.
The question “What did you learn?” follows them like a shadow until they answer it, at least for themselves. When possible, good leaders collaborate with the performer as they ponder their answer, softly offering observations and suggestions along with the learnings the performer gleaned.
Good leaders ask this question strategically after someone’s disappointing performance. No need to walk on eggshells. Simply ask, “What did you learn?” It takes the sting out of the post-performance blues and carries important feedback. High performers don’t get better without it.