Every company faces this question and usually it is most reluctant to allow its stars to part ways. Retaining stars is not easy and is generally expensive. It can upset the balance of wages and/or organization structure and there is still risk that some or most stars would leave, living the management high and dry.
So, is it prudent to depend so much on star performers of the company?
Before, we answer above question, we need to assess whether companies are picking up their stars right!
One needs to be a Star to pick-up a Star!
To my knowledge, most companies worldwide are oblivious of above fact! It has been researched and also witnessed that consciously or unconsciously, following criteria go in shortlisting “stars”, “high potentials” or even “faces to watch”:
- 45% of stars are selected just of the basis of their “confident and stylish” or “assertive” communication skills, even when they are short on other qualities.
- 10% are selected, if their physical personality is good, with all other qualities of middle order and even when their temperament could be an issue.
- 19 to 20% are selected, if they are very sincere, hardworking and obedient, though they may lack dynamism, initiative or innovativeness.
- 17% are selected based upon bosses’ liking or disliking, whims and fancies.
- 2 to 3% are indeed good performers and shining.
- 6% are selected to fill the gap or list; being a familiar face is the only major consideration!
Above is an approximate break down of the basis, on which company management and its HR list their elites! This is a bitter reality of corporate life; most may not relish knowing. Let us not forget that it bears out of straight fact that you need to be a star to correctly identify and justify your choice. It raises a basic question, how many stars; a company is able to muster on its panel of selection? Sometimes no one!
So, first and foremost need is to set the process of picking stars right. If there are no stars on selection panel, management must accept its limitation and use the collective wisdom of members as wisely as possible.
The bottom line is that most companies are unable to do a good job in picking its stars!
Dependability on and of Stars
Should companies rely on their Stars? Yes, they should and put stacks on them, provided company can keep them challenged, offer a career path, which appeals to them and provide opportunities accordingly, while strategizing that it does not impact organization structure adversely. It is possible to do this by proper planning.
If an organization holds too many stars, it may create friction, unless the management is of super star caliber! There is high risk of collisions among stars and resultant firework would only hurt other employees!
Most stars may not hang around and therefore, their loyalty factor could be questionable. If the organization is big, then it is desirable to have more frequent job rotations for stars as opposed to other employees. They may still not latch on for too long; therefore, companies must always develop their backups. Beyond a certain point, it is not prudent to hold back a star, in terms of cost and creating opportunities for other employees.
Equal Development and Growth program for all
It is most effective that companies institute identical development and growth program for every employee in each of main functions like Sales, Technical, Finance, HR etc. and not make any differentiation between stars and others at program level. This would be a tremendous motivation and morale booster for all employees.
It is clear that high potential employees would go through such program faster by virtue of their performance and under performers would move slowly and some of them may not make even half way mark. Such program would automatically bring distinction between good, average and under performers. It would also bring strengths and weaknesses of individual employees on table and a right plan to address the weaknesses can be put in place.
This program should be dovetailed into chart or tree of career path, allow cross functions, when appropriate and should provide opportunity to everyone to reach top position in his/her function. Not that everyone can or would be capable of reaching; but he or she sees a path to reach and that would stimulate his/her efforts.
There is paramount need for companies to take such bold steps and throw challenges to employees.
Another critical point is some employees bring with them inherent qualities to become a star; but they are very few. Greater number is for whose potential to become star needs to be unlocked! At the core level, everyone has a potential. What is required is for Management and Managers (HR included) to lay down correct guidance, direction, program, coaching/mentoring to bring out startling results, which would convert:
Unpolished –> Polished –> Shining
Docile –> Dynamic –> Dazzling
Isolated/Introvert –> Imaginative –> Innovative
Drop ideas to retain; institute mission to “develop n grow talent”
Objective of companies or its HR to hire and retain employees have become outlandish and outdated! They should turn to mission “develop and grow talent”! If this is done, there would be automatic correction to their direction and retention would chase this mission!
Employees feel slighted when they are told time and again that management or HR’s aim is to retain them for company’s sake; instead, they should be encouraged to feel that they need to be there for their own sake and good!!
Moral of the Story
- You need to be a Star to pick a Star!
- Don’t be obsessed with Stars; create orbit (opportunities) for them to remain on course. If you can’t, be graceful to give them graceful exit or outside placement.
- Treat stars and other employees on equal footing and give them identical program to develop. Survival of fittest would do the talking; so no need to show your preferences.
- Everyone has a potential; if you fail to unlock, blame and amend your attitude and approach!
- If management would do above, their company would dazzle and become darling of every employee!