Bruce Tulgan is a force of nature!
Doug Bonestroo, VP of Business Development, Agile Frameworks
Dec 1, 2014

Management Challenge #17: When You Have a Superstar You Need to Keep Engaged
Excerpted from The 27 Challenges Managers Face

FROM BRUCE

Happy Holidays from all of us at RainmakerThinking!! We are glad to say we had a lot to be thankful for this year: New partners, new clients, a new on-line training site, a new on-line assessment center, and a new book in a pear tree… Might we humbly suggest an appropriate holiday gift for any leader, manager, supervisor in your organization or your life, The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems: Give the gift of solutions to (nearly) all of his/her management problems.

Stay strong!
Bruce

MY NEW BOOK

27-challenges-mangers-face

Would you like to give The 27 Challenges (or any of our books) as a gift this holiday season? We would be happy send you a bookplate signed by Bruce to affix to the inside of the book. Email us at bruce_tulgan@rainmakerthinking.com and tell us what you need and where to send them.

Order Now!

PlusThe 27 Challenges Managers Face is now available for pre-order at Audible.com. You can buy your audiobook now, and when it releases on December 16, it will be in your library and available for download.

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MANAGEMENT CHALLENGE #17:

When You Have a Superstar You Need to Keep Engaged

I

f you are in charge of a superstar, then you must be a super superstar. Right? That’s a lot of pressure. One of the awkward secrets of managing superstars is that a lot of managers are not 100% sure they really have what it takes to continue leading that superstar.

Sometimes managers fool themselves into thinking that their superstars are so talented, skilled, and motivated that they don’t need to be managed at all. Even superstars need to be managed. Just like everyone else, superstars have bad days, sometimes go in the wrong direction, and have lapses in judgment. Even superstars need guidance, direction, support, and encouragement. Most of all, superstars want to be challenged and developed.

Sometimes managers tell me, “This superstar is different. She is so talented, skilled, and motivated that I have nothing to offer her.” If that’s truly the case, it doesn’t mean the person doesn’t need a manager. It just means you are second-guessing whether you are up to the challenge.

You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to be a great coach. You need to be, first and foremost, reliably persistent, consistently engaged, providing that regular touch-point of accountability—- at the very least a mirror always there to provide an honest source of feedback. The superstar wants a performance coach who knows exactly what she is doing; who is in a position to help her do more, faster, and better; who is in a position to keep track of her successes.

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FROM OUR RESEARCH:

I
nstead of neglecting your regular one-on-ones with your superstars, double down on them. Put your one-on-ones with superstars at the top of your priority list, ahead of the low-performers. Then take your regular ongoing one-on-ones with your superstars to the next level. To keep a superstar engaged:

  • Prepare more, not less, for every one-on-one.
  • Always check regularly to make sure that things are going as well as you think. Just like everybody else, superstars need to provide regular reports on their tasks, responsibilities, and projects. Regardless of their talents, you need to verify that the work is getting done.
  • Pay close attention to how superstars challenge you in ways that you don’t expect. Learn from the way they force you to stay on your toes and think on your feet.
  • Brainstorm about recurring problems and innovative solutions.
  • Learn from their front-lines intelligence. What’s really going on out there? And learn from their analysis. What do you make of what’s going on out there?
  • Help them pursue technical expertise, professional training, and any specialized knowledge.
  • Make sure they get their needs met and aren’t looking for another job. Go out of your way to ask regularly, “What do you need from me?” Keep track of their great work and look for ways to provide them with special rewards.
  • Challenge superstars to be peer leaders and to take ad hoc leadership opportunities like short term projects and teams. And coach them every step of the way.
  • Teach them the tricks and the shortcuts, warn them of pitfalls, and help them solve problems. Support them through bad days and counsel them through difficult judgment calls.
  • Once in a while talk strategically about how superstars should navigate their careers within the organization. Discuss how work assignments have been going and what assignments should be sought next; new training opportunities, transfers to new work groups, or moves to new locations. You might recommend strategies for pursuing raises, promotions, or desired work conditions. The idea is to offer regular career advice from an insider’s perspective so they don’t have to get it from outsiders (like headhunters).
  • Use your influence and authority within the organization to make sure that the most valuable players are getting the lion’s share of resources to support and accelerate their career success. Talk regularly with your superstars to make certain that nothing has gone wrong or is going wrong in their work assignments. Steer them to the best training opportunities, the choice projects and assignments, and the most powerful decision makers. Fast track them to win bonuses, raises, promotions, and desired work conditions.