The Best Ways to Use Your Star Performers
Star performers are often the lynchpin of the team. They get the toughest assignments, are placed in the most high-profile and valuable projects, and are often used as the team’s pinch hitter.
But in truth, assigning your star performers exclusively to tasks—no matter how difficult or important—is doing your team a disservice. They can offer your organization so much more than just bug-hunting or client management.
Any process can stand to use a little improvement, and the smart project manager will go to his star performers for tips. Did your star succeed because of your process, or despite it? Depending on their answer, you may scrap some aspects of your workflow and expand on others.
Many teams fall into the trap of relying too much on their star performer—often turning him into a crutch. When the star performer leaves, the team is far less effective as a result.
To prevent this, project managers need to invest in some training time, and who better to conduct that training than the best person on the team? In addition to passing on the right habits and skills, it’ll also give the star performer the chance to develop a new skillset, while allowing the team to bond.
If your star performer has already mastered every task you’ve thrown at him, then perhaps it’s time to move him up to a new level. Don’t worry about moving him up too fast. There are ways to test his leadership without promoting him. In fact, going slow would give him time to grow into the role and let the team get used to seeing him as a leader figure.
Burnout and boredom are the greatest dangers to any star performer. If tasks become too easy, they might wind up looking for challenges at a different company.
To help prevent this, try rotating them to different accounts, projects, or roles. Not only will it help them stay interested, but it will also make them (and other employees) more well-rounded.
What other out-of-the-box tips do you have for your star performers? Share them in the comments below!
Image credit, Flickr, Dan Gallant
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.