“Stars.” “Key Employees.” “High Performers.” ” ‘A’ players.” “Studs.”
A million names for those people, who by most measures, are bigger, better, stronger, faster than the rest.
The top-of-the-employee-food chain.
So, everybody wants ’em, but do we really??
Sort of like a dog chasing a car, what do we do when we catch them?
What to do with Superstars?
1. How do we know one when we see one?
Part of this is always going to be gut feel. This is why I believe true Talent Management is about the highest-level skill a leader can have. Formal assessments can be helpful, as are well-defined, observable performance and competency characteristics (i.e., good Performance Management helps here, too).
In other words, if they look like a Star, act like a Star, and work like a Star, they probably quack like a duck. Or they’re a Star.
2. Then, what do we do with them?
Turn ’em loose with important stuff, let them know they are being turned loose with important stuff, then act as a principal resource for obstacle removal, resource acquisition, and general guidance. Don’t look over their shoulder, but do stay in reasonably close contact.
Availability and oversight aren’t the same thing.
3. How do we keep them?
See #2 above, for starters.
Let them know, in English language words, of their known value to the organization. Stop short of actually saying “Star” to their face, but not too short. Ask them — again using English language words — why they stay, what they need to continue their success, and what sorts of career plans do they feel they have for themselves.
Blow off your textbook “management development” plan, and design something incredibly specific just for them. Don’t worry about scalability; you don’t have that many real Stars…
…and you thought this stuff was hard.