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Leadership Development Blog

Creating a Culture Where Super Stars Soar

Fact. Every business wants great people, and great people want to work with great businesses.

High performing people read advertisements promising ‘diverse, innovative and exciting workplaces and connect immediately to the promise of an enriched career.

Fiction: Not every business turns out to be great, and not every candidate is as good as they are on paper.

One could ask if poor recruitment is to blame or is it the company culture that lacks lustre? Most likely it is a combination of both, and here’s why. It is not uncommon to find the quality of an organisation’s  developmental pathway often falls short of the expectations of employees by failing to give them the skills or opportunities to become tomorrow’s super stars. Nor does it often afford the existing employee continuous improvement opportunities, and who are sadly often considered either “dead wood” or known to be operating at a level good enough to get by, but not good enough to get buy-in.

So finding the right people for the job is only part of the equation. Creating intellectually and professionally stimulating and innovative processes and environments to enable people to operate at their full potential is the bigger question facing great companies today as they rely on both people and technology combined to whisk them successfully into a robust workplace of the future.

There are clear steps to attaining this, and they should all be followed in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for both the company and the people.

1. Determine the future forecast and recruit for it.

Be future focussed but always present centred so you can recruit or position people with the end in mind. Get clear on what you think the future will look like and how you will support your employees once they are inducted. Be on the lookout for some people who are visionary, innovative and big picture to create the next pathway. Some, not all.

 Then, endorse and set up a safe to fail environment in which they can wisely experiment with new ideas.  Be first to get off the dance floor and onto the balcony and watch the magic happen as this certain percentage of your articulated staff will see this as paying tribute to their skill and will thrive. After all, isn’t that what they are hired to do? As Steve Jobs said “ We don’t hire smart people and then tell them what to do. You hire smart people and let them tell you what to do”

Lesson Learnt : Allow people to play to their strengths

2. Create Learning Circles

In order for smart people to forge ahead they need to thrive in stimulating settings and be part of the bigger conversations around them. Super stars like to be around other super stars. Create the game play.

You can do this in a number of ways

a)      Encourage key innovators to form their own mastermind groups to problem solve issues in the business – outside the work they do. That’s important. Remember, BIG picture.

b)      Invite people to form specific PEG’s (Professional Experts Groups) that focus on key areas such as Innovation, Creativity, Risk Agility, Diversity, Technology, Future.  Allow them certain hours per month/ week to spend on and in their areas of expertise and then encourage them to share the learning across the business at events such as PaperBag Lunch Forums, or through the intranet or Client Forums or Lunches.

c)       Create reverse mentoring opportunities for people to share their expertise in learning circles or with specific individuals thereby improving the skills across the business.

Lesson Learnt: Enable people to share their skills across the business outside the work they do.

3. Develop a 5 Day Organisational Showcase

Endorse a 5 Day Organisational Showcase whereby each team or department showcase their skills and talents across the business in a unique conference style setting. Create an open space in the main foyer of the building or on a spacious floor whereby teams can set up and demonstrate the work they are doing, talk to others in the business, share stories and ideas and create interest and awareness across the teams and divisions and even across regions.

Get teams to cross pollinate and illustrate the power of what is being achieved in each division. Remember this also creates healthy competition and stimulates the intellect.

Lesson Learnt: Don’t duplicate work when teams could be sharing ideas and learning from eachother’s best practice.

4. Educate on Diversity and Multigenerational Management.

Education is everyone’s responsibility not just HR’s or the companies. Encourage everyone to make at least a 10% contribution to improving awareness and tolerance of diversity and managing new generations. Request examples, evidence and testimony that everyone is actively taking a role in building greater cultural awareness.  Look and show the multiplier effect of how great a 10% improvement across each team member can be.

Lesson Learnt: If 100 people in your organisation made an individual commitment to improve by just 10% improvement each, you will have 1000% improvement in the areas of diversity and multigenerational management.  Make it your business to circulate the learning and make it everyone’s business to share the benefits.

5.       Encourage positive purpose with deadlines and rewards

There is no disputing the fact that people still prefer a bonus and other pay schemes when it comes to retaining and rewarding them. There is also no disputing the fact that people also like to be recognised for their contribution and commitment to their company and clients.

The best way to achieve both is to encourage positive purpose in each project given to staff so they can see how their work fits into the bigger context and how it makes a difference. By having a work deadline in place together with a context around it, and knowing they will be recognised privately and publically for their contribution, one can’t help see the stars rise to the top.

Lesson Learnt: Always show gratitude before money.

More companies globally every year are recognising that having super stars work with them and for them was not just about good luck or clever recruitment but about their ability to create and sustain a culture of appreciation, endorsement and vision that goes beyond the present.

Lesson Shared: Super Stars are everywhere. Not just at the top of the pile but in the everyday people who come to work to do a good job… but you have to let them.

Posted by Ricky Nowak on 25th June, 2015 |

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