Guest Column | February 2, 2018

Stop Ignoring Your Top Performers

By Liz Bywater, Ph.D.

Stop Ignoring Your Top Performers

In today’s dynamic healthcare climate, in which there is often far more to be done than there are hours in the day, healthcare leaders must carefully decide how to spend their time — and be clear about what will come off their plate. They must be exceedingly strategic with time, energy, and resources to thrive amid the demands of today’s 24/7 world.

Unfortunately, even the best leaders may inadvertently take the wrong things off the priorities list.

For example: I often hear from my executive clients that they don’t schedule consistent meetings with their direct reports. They are especially likely to opt out of regular meetings with their top performers. The rationale? These employees are leaders too, highly talented, and able to do the job well, even in the absence of regular 1:1s with the boss. Sound familiar?

Here are five reasons you may be ignoring your best and brightest.

They can find you if they need you. If there’s a crisis that requires your attention, they can get ahold of you. Why waste time with scheduled 1:1s?

You want to demonstrate trust. Consistent meetings would somehow convey you don’t have faith in their judgment or abilities — wouldn’t they?

You don’t have time. With so much on your plate, something’s got to give.

You expect them to figure things out on their own. That’s why you’re paying them the big bucks, right? You refuse to coddle or spoon feed.

You want them to “stretch.” By giving your top performers room to make decisions and act autonomously, you are accelerating the pace of growth. They may sink occasionally but if they never fail, they won’t learn. True enough, but do they really need to be thrown into the deep end with no life guard on duty?

The fact is, there is a cost to taking a strictly “ad hoc” approach to your team. Here’s what you may be missing:

Proactive discussions. Ad hoc conversations tend to be focused on pressing issues and fire-fighting. Proactive discussions allow for fire prevention, proactive information-sharing, and a more strategic approach.

New ideas. Scheduled meetings with each member of your team allow you to uncover creativity and novel approaches that often remain hidden amid urgent issues of the day.

Long-term commitment. Employees who meet regularly with their bosses are more likely to feel valued, appreciated, and guided toward growth opportunities. Let’s face it, getting top talent is a major challenge. Once you’ve got great people on board, you’ll want to keep them.

The chance to exemplify great leadership. When you make a point of consistently meeting with each member of your team — including your top performers — you model the kind of leadership each of them should be cascading down and across the organization. This produces a multiplier effect that cannot be underestimated.

Bottom line? Don’t let the busyness of running a business hold you back from spending time with everyone on your team — even those who can get by without you. Why let them simply survive when they can thrive? The investment of time and energy will pay back in more ways than you can possibly imagine.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Dr. Liz on Leadership. Each month, I will share new ideas, tools and advice to help you thrive in today’s ever-changing healthcare environment. Let me know what’s top of mind and I’ll answer your most pressing questions in future columns. Contact me at

For additional tools and thought leadership, check out my all-new website, And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed, and Thrive in a 24/7 World!