How to Manage an Overachiever

Overachievers have the drive, determination, passion and energy needed to accomplish huge projects. But you need to lead them differently if you want to take advantage of what they have to offer. You also need to be aware of characteristics that can undermine their success. Overachievers will often set unrealistic expectations for themselves, work long hours and take risks to succeed at all cost. In order to manage overachievers, you need to understand their personality type and build a relationship based on trust so they know you have their best interests at heart.

Three ways to spot an overachiever:

  • ThinkstockPhotos-467103343Drive: “Overachievers don’t always understand the reasons for their success and often question the outcome, so they push harder. They easily lose patience with those who don’t push as hard. Many have difficulties interacting socially.”—Frank Tallman, founding director and C-level executive coach at Professional Development Consulting
  • Impatience: “Most overachievers are impatient when asked to explain the same thing more than once. They don’t understand why people can’t see the big picture as they do.” — Christopher Coppola, film director
  • Good judgment: “Many have sharp problem-solving skills, foresight, good acumen, and the ability to blend into the company’s culture.”—Ken Elefant, Investment Director, Intel Capital

Managing the overachiever:ThinkstockPhotos-450745027

  • Mentoring program: Develop a mentoring program to lead overachievers, and let them provide insight to other employees
  • Patience: Overachievers demand a lot from their managers. But if you give them the time and attention they need, they will accomplish twice as much as your other employees.

When working with an overachiever, keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Set realistic goals and deadlines
  • Praise the process as well as the outcome
  • Present challenging assignments
  • Delegate authority with responsibility
  • Stress relationships as well as tasks
  • Decrease fear
  • Help the overachiever see the long-term payoffs

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