You seek someone who can help propel your company forward. The candidate must be able to do X, Y and Z, and do all of those tasks brilliantly. So, you list the required skill set on Monster or put the word out through a far-reaching headhunter, and then sort through the barrage of qualified applicants who all possess those precious X, Y and Z skills. Now what?
Like capturing lightning in a bottle, landing a superlative employee for your company is electric with amazing potential; yet, it also poses the quandary of how to best leverage a star asset. Hiring a great employee is only the first step. To make the payoff worth the investment, it’s critical to learn how to strategically manage great employees.
Discerning the Spark
What makes some candidates’ applications stand out more than others isn’t always identifiable. Perhaps it’s an offhand turn of phrase or the casual mention of a hobby that clues you in to how the applicant thinks. Whatever it is, when you notice that shining light, it’s tempting to swoop that person up and deposit that individual into your team, where he’ll be expected to fit in perfectly with everyone else. But you didn’t pick this person out because he/she fit in. You chose this individual because they stood out. That may mean a bit of grinding gears for a time, but it’s worth it if you can build upon that employee’s rare qualities for the betterment of the company overall.
The manager, lucky enough to find that up-and-coming superstar, isn’t lucky at all; this manager is observant and attentive. He/she knows that restricting perceptions of capabilities to the narrow fields of a job description will reveal only those limited aspects of ability.
To discover the rare qualities of a great employee, allow a bit of a loose rein. Set the basic boundaries and outline the necessary expectations for the position, but provide enough of a laissez-faire environment so creative thinkers can think and create. Offer challenges outside the specified scope of focus.
When employees are judged solely as members of a specific department, then workers will only be assessed based upon contributions to that particular arena. Woe to the cheetah judged as unsuitable because he couldn’t swim like a fish; woe even more to the manager who missed the opportunity to reassign the cheetah from the swimming project to the racing team.
Allow Greatness to Unfold
No one bats a thousand times every day. Your new employee may fail the first time at bat. Don’t despair: face-palming failures can be mere precursors to stunning successes. Trust that your shining stars will prove you correct in your ability to identify greatness.
“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” – William Shakespeare