2016-02-24

Management challenge #17

Bruce Tulgan

Often leaders managing superstars ask, “What do we talk about with the superstar? After all, this person is so talented, skilled, and motivated that she is able to handle more responsibility than most. She can make her own project plans; she gets lots of work done very well, very fast, all day, every day; she doesn’t cause problems; she learns quickly and steadily; she has great relationship skills; she understands the big picture; she is a great critical thinker; and she takes exactly the right amount of initiative without overstepping. She’s so on top of things: She wants to get out there and sell! I don’t want to waste the Superstar’s time. How do I make sure the one-on-ones are a good use of time?”


What is the answer? It really requires YOU to take the one-on-ones to the next level. Instead of neglecting your regular one-on-ones with your superstars, take your regular ongoing one-on-ones with your superstars to the next level. To keep a superstar engaged:


Prepare more, not less, for every one-on-one.


Always check regularly to make sure that things are going as well as you think. Just like everybody else, superstars need to provide regular reports on their tasks, responsibilities, and projects. Regardless of their talents, you need to verify that the work is getting done.


Pay close attention to how superstars challenge you in ways that you don’t expect. Learn from the way they force you to stay on your toes and think on your feet.


Brainstorm about recurring problems and innovative solutions.


Learn from their front-lines intelligence. What’s really going on out there? And learn from their analysis. What do you make of what’s going on out there?


Help them pursue technical expertise, professional training, and any specialized knowledge.


Make sure they get their needs met and aren’t looking for another job. Go out of your way to ask regularly, “What do you need from me?” Keep track of their great work and look for ways to provide them with special rewards.


Challenge superstars to be peer leaders and to take ad hoc leadership opportunities like short term projects and teams. And coach them every step of the way.


Teach them the tricks and the shortcuts, warn them of pitfalls, and help them solve problems. Support them through bad days and counsel them through difficult judgment calls.


Once in a while talk strategically about how superstars should navigate their careers within the organization. Discuss how work assignments have been going and what assignments should be sought next; new training opportunities, transfers to new work groups, or moves to new locations..


Use your influence and authority within the organization to make sure that the most valuable players are getting the lion’s share of resources to support and accelerate their career success. Talk regularly with your superstars to make certain that nothing has gone wrong or is going wrong in their work assignments. Steer them to the best training opportunities, the choice projects and assignments, and the most powerful decision makers. Fast track them to win bonuses, raises, promotions, and desired work conditions.


ABOUT THE AUTHORBruce Tulgan is an adviser to business leaders all over the world and a sought-after keynote speaker and seminar leader. He is the founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking, Inc., a management research and training firm, as well as RainmakerThinking.Training, an online training company. Bruce is the best-selling author of numerous books including Not Everyone Gets a Trophy (Revised & Updated, 2016), Bridging the Soft Skills Gap (2015), The 27 Challenges Managers Face (2014), , and It’s Okay to be the Boss (2007). He has written for the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, HR Magazine, Training Magazine, and the Huffington Post. Bruce can be reached by e-mail at brucet@rainmakerthinking.com, you can follow him on Twitter @BruceTulgan, or visit his website www.rainmakerthinking.com.

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