When You Can't Afford to Hire a Superstar, Create One Instead

9 Ways to Turn Ordinary Employees Into Superstars


Employee turnover is a fact of life in business. As hard as it is to lose good employees, we know that even our superstars -- those "one of a kind," dedicated employees we count on in our daily operations -- are destined to seek greater opportunities. After all, that's what makes them star employees: they have the drive, insight, productivity and knowledge to carry through and meet their goals.

Unfortunately, paying top dollar to hire a replacement with a demonstrated ability to immediately take over that lead position is not always an option. Many times the money is just not there to replace our top producers with top earners. Other times, spending freezes get in the way of hiring new workers, and waiting months to replace that position we counted on so heavily isn't always possible.

Consequently, many companies are finding there are benefits to training and promoting less-than-stellar employees to become superstars. Depending upon how much coaching is needed, it may be quicker to train a staff member than to hire from the outside. Equally important, however, is that it can also serve to incentivize a worker whose performance has been spotty in the past, and provide new opportunities for increasing morale and teamwork in the department. Companies often find that it can be less expensive to train and promote from within then to engage the services of an employment agency, head hunter or other support services.

But in many cases, turning our "ordinary" staff into prize-winning employees requires finding the right steps to motivate, encourage and support their progress. In this vein, here are some tips to that may help in the training process.

Keep things simple in training. Give concise, practical steps that the new employee can follow. If possible, provide written backup to each step you provide so the employee can refer to it when he or she is alone.

Break the major duties into self-contained daily lessons the employee can practice alone. Make it easy for him/her to feel accomplishment with each learning module.

Remember this is a partnership and you both want to succeed. Find out about the employee’s career goals. Does this job complement those aspirations? Are there ways to help open doors to the employee’s success in those goals, such as training seminars or company-paid education credits?

Clearly define the incentives for the employee’s participation. If money for promotion is tight, look at other incentives that may complement pay increases. Perhaps successfully training for the job means a better office and other perks. Remember that your goal is to motivate the worker, and there no better way to do so then to show how the employee will directly benefit from his or her involvement.

Remember to inspire and encourage success. There’s nothing like the pride in one’s accomplishments to promote even greater employee productivity.

Everyone makes mistakes. Many times it’s how we find our path to accomplishment. Encourage the employee to take risks whenever feasible. Create a culture of opportunity for your up-and-coming star so the person knows it’s OK to try new tasks and assignments.

Provide clear times when you are accessible for problem solving, questions or just chatting. At the same time, make sure your staff understands that you expect certain goals to be met – including the deadlines you set out each day.

There’s nothing wrong with using your previous star employee’s performance as an example, but steer away from comparing your trainee with others. The goal is to help the trainee find his or her own strengths and skills, not set the person back with unfair and inappropriate comparisons to a former top-performer.

Each person values parts of their job differently. For some it may be the environment in which they work. For others it may be comfortable hours they work. Be sensitive to what engages or frustrates your new star pupil and remember that no two personalities or superstars are the same. That’s what makes their skills shine.

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