By Alisa Sainoski

Identifying your next star employee is one of the most strategic actions a leader can take.  Star employees do more than just work for you, they protect you and extend your capacity and influence.  Consider how much more effective and less overworked you are as a leader if you have an A-team to turn to whenever a crisis looms, a deadline threatens, or a massive opportunity knocks.

Seeking a loyal, high-potential individual is no easy task.  A high-potential individual is typically one who has the ability to deliver superior results consistently, no matter the challenges or circumstances.  Loyalty is even more important, if your employee is willing to go the distance then all your time and energy spent on developing them to be the next star employee was not a waste of time and resources.  Loyalty is what keeps a business running and a loyal employee will want the business to succeed just as much as you do.  If your employee has the right mentality then they have a bigger drive to work harder, and achieve unimaginable accomplishments.  As a leader you should recognise your own weaknesses and train your star employee to complement your strengths by addressing your weakness.  Now you might think you don’t have a weakness but everyone does, it is part of being human.  You could have a broad experience but lack attention to detail, you will need someone to compliment this weakness.

An effective business owner recognises they are not climbing the promotional ladder anymore.  It is in their power to develop others and help them achieved their leadership and career potential as they become part of their legacy and influence.  They will be the people who help to grow the business and make it more than just a job-for-life.

Your star employee should have a great attitude that does not dwell on negative issues or situations, they should respond well to constructive feedback.  Skills are not the same as talent, a star employee will care enough to improve on their abilities.  A high-potential employee will accept a challenge and then set the bar even higher, it will not matter if that bar exceeds their experience or skills.  They will still tackle a problem head on.  Raw talent is a good start, but greatness requires internal motivation.  Star employees have an innate drive to create.  Often, they pursue side projects, or tackle personal goals outside of work.  Introvert or extrovert doesn’t matter, as a skilled communicator can effectively convey ideas, and understand other people and work together to solve problems.  They have empathy and aim for clarity, so misunderstandings don’t lurk under the surface.  Social skills are closely tied to the ability to communicate which is the ability to manager yourself and the ability to manage others.  Star employees can handle the increased pressure and act with dignity and integrity.  They are able to establish and maintain cooperative working relationships, build a broad network of contracts and form alliances.

Developing star employees is helping to empower them to achieve their goals.  Star employees thrive when they are challenged and even if they do not have the skills to match the challenge, chances are they will rise to the occasion and figure it out on their own.  Star employees are self-motivated and they need to know someone cares about the work but steps away when they are on the mission to have the freedom to develop creative solutions.  They cannot achieve greatness on their own, they need a strong team to be able to achieve the companies’ goals and with a strong team everyone benefits.  After all, nothing incredible is ever achieved by a single person, even Leonard Da Vince needed a model, to achieve his goals.

When budgets are tight and the economy is failing, it can be tempting to cut education from expenses, but your top performers are truly the biggest investment in your business.  Sometimes we see great promise in a staff member, but they just don’t fulfil those high expectations, because they are exhausted and feel unmotivated.  Instead of giving up on the potential star employee, it is worth moving them to a new role or re-focus their motivation and see what makes them want to thrive again.

Pay attention, keep your star employee motivated and one day they might surprise you and themselves.

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