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Preventing Your Star Performer From Becoming a Flight Risk



I was working with an Operations VP on his C-Suite Promotability Plan when we were discussing the strength of his bench of direct reports. He told me it was great until his best performer – his go-to guy – accepted an offer from a competitor. Here’s the painful part: It was a lateral move; it wasn’t even a promotion.

My VP said this was a gut-punch. “I didn’t even know my guy was unhappy,” he told me. “He didn’t even give us a chance to counter-offer.” Jeez!

So, here’s the thing: this happens not infrequently. Our stars get up and leave. And, you know what. It’s our own fault. We contribute to it.

The cost of this to you, is you have a weaker team and you’re unprofitable.

Let’s get underneath this.

WHY our stars leave:

1. We think they want to be left alone – Maybe WE like to, so we project that onto them.
2. We don’t know they’re unhappy – They’re easy and don’t complain.
3. We take them for granted – they’re the one part of the operation that’s working well!
4. We give them other people’s work! That’s right, the stuff our underperformers can’t deliver, we redirect to our Stars!

You know you do this; we all do!
But, it’s a recipe for flight risk!

WHAT to do, instead:

1. Know their Motivators

David McClelland’s motivation theory says we’re driven by three needs which we each have in various amounts: the need to achieve; the need for power; and the need to affiliate with others.

I’d add a 4th and that’s Recognition.
Which are the important ones to YOUR Star?

2. Get engaged in their professional development

Find out what they want by asking them.
What do they want from work?
What do they want from their Career?

3. Hold them accountable – Stars love that! Why? They want their results seen!

HOW to put some if that in place:

The main thing is that you have to do it both Formally and Informally:
On the more formal side: Schedule quarterly Development meetings to identify their objectives, monitor their progress and mentor them.

On the less formal side: Learn how to give high quality, substantive feedback.

– Recent surveys show: High performers seek more feedback at work, positive AND negative
– CCL has a great model for that and we have our own and we take a pretty deep dive on it in CSuite Accelerator
If you do these things consistently, you will:

– Re-engage your Stars
– Build a strong Bench
– be ready for promotion to the C-Suite

Taking Action:

So what I want to know is, in light of what we discussed today, what are you going to do to properly care and feed for one or more of your stars? Leave me a comment.

I enjoyed making this for you; I hope it’s been useful. If you like it, share it with your colleagues or someone else you believe might benefit.

If you want to learn more, take our “C-Suite Roadblock Audit,” which will help you identify mistakes you might be making right now that could be hurting your C-Suite prospects. You can also download our “Team Optimizer Checklist” to help get your bench of direct reports aligned. Alternatively, if you’d like to have a brief complimentary call with me feel free to reach out for a 15-minute Strategy Session.