Tag Archive: influencers

Who Are Your Stars?

July 21st, 2019

In our 14 years of consulting experience and almost 30 years of working experience, we have found that 80% of executives spend the majority of their time with the 20% of employees who do not achieve results. Unfortunately, this means they don’t have time to spend with the stars who achieve 80% of the results. Do you fall into this trap as well? As executives commented in our 2019 predictions document, talent is a hot topic in today’s tight labor market. If you aren’t paying attention to your stars, they will jump ship to someone who does pay attention.

People don’t leave companies. They leave bosses!
As an executive, stop to think about what questions you are asking. Do you ask your direct reports about their stars? Could you identify the future stars of your organization? Or are you just addressing issues as they arise? Key customer issues. Board questions. Performance problems. Etc. If so, undoubtedly, you are receiving information from stars or they could be working behind the scenes, invisible to you. We find that these stars can be easily overlooked because they might not like the spotlight or they are likely to be the person to bring up unpopular topics. Does your culture support these stars or encourage them to stay hidden?

Here are ways to find your stars:

  1. Pay attention to who your leaders go to in order to get information. There is always a star behind the scenes who has the information when you need it. It is likely this person could be several layers below you and so you’ll need to pay attention.
  2. Have you asked old-timers for information or ideas lately? Ask employees who have been around a while. If they feel overlooked, they aren’t going to offer ideas and information until asked. However, when valued, you just might be surprised with some amazing results. We have had countless numbers of clients with this sort of hidden gem! Typically there is at least one person like this in every organization.
  3. Look for someone who might be unpopular in meetings because they’ll bring up issues. Frequently, there is someone who is willing to speak up about issues who becomes unpopular because the rest of the team doesn’t understand or think the issue will occur. This person is also seen as delaying the process. Sometimes, these folks are just problem employees but often they can be your stars. Stars are willing to speak up about issues, and if you listen to them, they will save you from all sorts of problems. Of course, if it was only that easy! Typically these folks might not be the best communicators, so they aren’t seen as stars by their managers. You’ll have to look hard.
  4. Look for the influencers. Although not typically in a position of power, the masses will follow them because they trust their judgment. This isn’t obvious because leaders aren’t involved. Look for who employees go to with questions or look for who they will go to if issues occur.
  5. Ask each employee about his/her ideas and/or create small group discussions. Once you gain trust, you’ll rapidly identify your stars.

Since your stars are responsible for 80% of the results and are the go-to people for any project worth doing, there is a dramatic ROI in finding your stars and embracing them. It certainly seems worth the effort of checking in on a few employees each time you walk through the office. Don’t stop and talk with your favorites or those with which you have common interests. Instead, stop at the first desk that wouldn’t part be part of your routine. Be interested and listen. We’ll bet you learn compelling ideas rapidly. Let us know how it goes and what strategies you find the most successful in finding your stars! We are always interested in this vital topic.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Employee Performance: Do Not Ignore Your Stars

People Rule!



California Steel Industries and Whether Progress Follows Passion

November 10th, 2018

Recently, I went on a tour of California Steel Industries (CSI), the leading producer of steel in the western United States.  We walked through the steel mill and the pipe mill.  You’ll see a video of the steel manufacturing process below.

It is quite an interesting process.  However, as amazing as it is to see, what is even more impressive is the dedication and passion of the employees who took us on the tour.  What I thought was most impressive is how the team members enjoyed the culture.

 

 

CSI has never had a layoff although they have used their employees to not just fill temporary roles but also to perform all services during tough years.  This dedication shines through.  For example, the pipe mill supervisor had a lot of pride as he told us about his story and the fact that it is the newest pipe mill in the world yet it is housed in the oldest building at CSI.  Perhaps progress follows passion in CSI’s case….

One tip to implement this week:
Culture seems to be popping up at every turn lately (tours, Harvey Mudd executive roundtables, successful CEO feedback) as key to success.

Have you thought about your culture and the impact on your employees and progress?  For example, on a tour, would your employees talk to the process and leave it at that?  Or would they talk about how much they enjoy working there?  Perhaps we should all “take a tour” of our facilities and find out.

If culture is simply as my consulting mentor Alan Weiss defines it (that set of beliefs that govern behavior), it is quite simple.  The issue is that it isn’t easy to build.

How might we create that set of beliefs that govern behavior?  Perhaps we start by deciding what we are willing to stand up for – and not waver from when the “going gets tough”.

If your influencers start believing in your culture, it will spread.  The trick is the only way I’ve ever seen influencers believe is by gaining their trust and respect and showing them (not telling them) what your new culture supports.

Why not start by simply thinking about what beliefs you support currently (whether intentional or unintentional)?  Can you see the impact of these beliefs in your culture?  The first step to any progress is to fully understand where you are now.