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4 Questions to Spotlight the Stars on Your Team

How do you know whether you have the right people in key roles? And how can you determine whether they need to be better trained, or even moved?

How do you know whether you have the right people in key roles? And how can you determine whether they need to be better trained, or even moved? Ask yourself these 4 essential questions about each person on your mind, and you’ll find your answer.

1. If you could do it all over again, would you rehire him or her?
Knowing what you know now, if you could go back in time to when you made your initial hiring decision, would you rehire her, and be excited to do so? In this thought experiment, you get to do a complete “do-over.” There are no consequences to deal with. You don’t have to review the history of why you made the decision you did at the time. You don’t have to think through questions of replacing the person, or face the prospect of potentially painful conversations in the future. Just cut through the clutter and answer the question. Would you rehire someone if you could do it over? The mark of a star is that you answer with a resounding YES! to this question every time.

2. Does he take your stress away?
With this person in the role, does your stress evaporate? Do you go home relaxed in the knowledge that everything’s covered now that he’s on the job, or do you worry about what he’s doing? Do you double-check his work before it goes out? Do you create systems for him so his mistakes will be caught (by you or someone else)?

You know that you’re carrying someone else’s stress when you go home and think about issues that he should be thinking about. The reason you hired him in the first place, and continue to pay him now, is so he will do his job and you won’t have to think about it anymore. Why should you pay someone to do a job and still carry part of the load and stress of that job? It doesn’t make sense.

“Would you rehire someone
if you could do it over?”

Have you been accused of being a poor delegator? Maybe the issue isn’t your skill in delegation, but the caliber of person you are choosing. I find that even natural micro-managers find it much easier to let go when they’re relinquishing an important task to someone who has demonstrated a history of caring about the job as much as they do, and of getting results. When a star is in charge, you relax, confident that he or she will take care of it.

3. How would you feel if this person quit?
Would you feel delighted, relieved, ambivalent, or devastated? When a weak performer leaves a company, he or she often fantasizes about how no one will be able to get along without her. She pictures the faces of her crestfallen customers who hear the news of her departure. She smirks with satisfaction as she envisions former colleagues awash with work they didn’t even know existed and have no idea how to complete. She believes that soon people throughout the organization will realize with dismay how wrong they were not to appreciate her indispensable contribution to the company.

What she doesn’t know is that usually these people are dancing with delight at her departure. Rather than dismay, colleagues feel a tremendous sense of relief and even of joy after a low performer leaves. Customers and co-workers are only too happy to be rid of the behaviors that made her an underperformer in the first place. There’s certainly no sorrow on display.

On the other hand, when a star leaves, her leaders and co-workers feel devastated—maybe even sick. They may go into a funk, wondering how they’ll go on without her. They regain equilibrium in time, but there are no feelings of ambivalence about her departure, and certainly no relief or delight.

Many times I’ve received a call at an odd hour from a CEO who has just found out that a key star player is leaving. Often he is stunned. There may be long silences on the phone as he slowly absorbs the multifaceted consequences he will have to face due to losing his star.
One of the hallmarks of a star is that no one wants him or her to leave.

4. What if everyone in your business was just like this person?
Does he or she bring the average up or down? If everyone on the team played at his level, would the team be upgraded or downgraded? Obviously, a below-average player will bring down the performance of the entire team. If everyone on your team is a star, your business will rock and your life will be bliss. So why aren’t you bending all of your focus and effort to attract and keep the stars?

With the best people in place, you can relax and focus on your primary responsibilities: moving the company forward to the future.


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