Don’t Let Your Stars Burn Out
Recent emphasis among enlightened organizations has been on identifying and retaining the best employees. Training efforts designed to remediate for people who have weaknesses are being replaced by programs that build on the strengths of the top performers.
This is a good thing.
The question it begs for me, at least within some organizations, is this: To what end? Yes, the company wants to motivate and retain their best people. Giving them more chances to succeed is a definite way to do this.
Lurking in the shadows, though, is the overt or subtle intention to train and retain top people so the company can get more production out of them. Hmmm. Is this the best way to use them? Up their workload and exposure?
Can’t blame the organization. It will go only as far as its best people will take it. But there are definite downsides, and ways to avoid them. Consider this.
In new business pursuits, prospects want to meet the people who will be servicing their accounts. The more important the pursuit, then, the greater the likelihood that you’ll want your best people to be key members of the pitch team, perhaps even lead it. Prospects love stars, and love the idea of those key players working on their business.
This might improve the odds of winning. It also improves the odds of burning out those top performers.
Too many new business pitches will lead to too many engagements for your best people. Too many opportunities for feeling exploited. Too many nights and weekends. Too much of a chance for burn-out. And with the same stars used over and over again, your team dynamics have to be vulnerable. Whether it’s a lack of collaboration, resentment, or people being too comfortable with each other, there’s bound to be increasingly wobbly interactions.
Cut down on your new business pursuits. Pursue only the highest value opportunities where you have very credible reasons for being considered a strong contender by the prospect. With fewer pitches, your stars will be engaged with the right levels of energy, intensity and commitment.
Here’s more from HBR on the care and feeling of corporate stars. Some good, meaningful info.