Top Tips For Nurturing Your Rock Star Employees

BY Kathy Crosett
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Do you have any rock stars on your team? If you’re like many managers, you may be over-​relying on these employees. After all, they will make sure every deadline is met. They’ll come in early, stay late and maintain a positive attitude.

Industry experts say rock stars are “51% more productive than others in their field.” It’s natural to want to give more responsibility to high performers. But, there are a couple of risks in using that management strategy. Sue Shellenbarger, in a Wall Street Journal column, discusses the danger of rock star burnout and the damage you can do to the rest of your team when you keep turning to the same person, especially during times of emergencies.

Rock Star Burnout

It doesn’t take long for the rest of your employees to figure out who the rock star is. They will start scheduling meetings with them or hanging around near their cubicle. Other employees know the rock star can help them quickly solve problems or figure out a fresh strategy. And your rock star likely never says no. They always want to help. If you allow this situation to continue, you may soon see your top performer head for the exit.

To stop that from happening, talk frankly with your top performers. Ask them what they enjoy. To give them more time to work on those tasks, help them learn to manage other aspects of the corporate life. For example, they need to be able to turn down requests to attend meetings and to say no when other staffers ask for too much of their time. 

The Company Culture

When managers consistently give the ‘best’ or ‘freshest’ assignments to the rock star employee, other team members notice. Before long, disgruntled employees might give the rock star a few undesirable labels. This situation could lead to a decline in corporate culture.

You’re also missing the boat in terms of training your other employees. Sure, it’s easier on you to always give the tough assignment to the person who will get the job done. In the long run, you need to be able to rely on other employees to accomplish big tasks. 

Take a look at the big projects your department is signed up for in the coming months. Could one of your newer and untested employees take on a project and succeed with a little help from you? Is there an existing employee who would benefit from stepping out of their comfort zone? You’ll never know until you try. Be prepared to offer support, encouragement, and plenty of your time. This strategy will take some pressure off your current rock star. And, before you know it, you may have another great employee on your team.