Everyone is in the ‘war for talent’ looking to attract and retain those “A” players, the rock stars, that move the team forward and keep them ahead of the game. However, not all “A” players are winning the “Presidents Club” awards, working with your top customers or in a high profile role. The challenge is knowing what a rock star looks like in your office, and especially your team, and identifying the unsung heroes who may be delivering outstanding results without fanfare and hoopla.
Here are nine characteristics that may help you to recognize your hidden gems and unsung “A” players.
1. “A” players are a pressure valve, not a pressure cooker
Your rock stars aren't just smart, they don't just have functional expertise, they also have people expertise. They are tuned into the moods of others on the team and can sense when things are tense. They are able to lighten the atmosphere with [appropriate] humor, or provide the perfect piece of advice just at the right time to ensure that any stress is released appropriately.
2. “A” players anticipate the needs of others
Your great employees are looking ahead and anticipating the needs of the team, their colleagues and of their boss. They are the ones who are taking action, before it's needed, rather than reacting after the situation. Who have the report or presentation created in draft ready for the team to finish and deliver. Ruby, one of the many rock stars in SkyeTeam, is like the character Radar from Mash. She always seems to be planning two or three steps ahead, anticipating the needs of the team and our clients, which means we are on top of our game, always.
3. “A” players bring solutions, not problems
Things will not always be smooth sailing. Your great employees will be those who fix problems before they become big issues, while it's still the proverbial molehill and not yet a mountain. Where they can’t solve the problem without your input then they don’t just bring it and dump it on your desk, invariably they will have recommendations and possible solutions to overcome it.
4. “A” players are eager learners
A great employee is someone who is always looking for opportunities to learn and grow. Whether it’s diving into a new project, spending time reviewing company documents, or attending a conference. They don’t let the grass grow under their feet! Continuous improvement, not just of process and systems but of themselves is how your rock stars operate.
5. “A” players share their learning
Your great employees don’t just keep their learning to themselves. They also look to build the capabilities of the team by sharing their observations and insights. They'll make recommendations for learning resources, books, videos, workshops etc. that may benefit the team. They are proactive in providing peer coaching and feedback. Their drive is to help the team learn and grow together.
6. “A” players disagree when needed
Your valuable employees are not simply seen and not heard. They also speak up and challenge the status quo (and you) when needed. Whether it’s asking “why,” “what if” or “how,” they are not afraid to ask the tough questions or to say "that sounds daft" in a way that encourages debate not defensiveness, an approach that increases learning and understanding and ultimately results in better quality decisions, and implementation of those decisions.
7. “A” players are empowered to know when to lead and when to follow
Your rock stars are those who use initiative and make things happen – who step up and lead without asking for permission. They are also the employees who get behind a decision or idea and make it a reality, who can follow and implement the decisions or plans. Your valuable employees are empowered and take personal accountability for their role and contribution to the team.
8. “A” players make delivering high standards look easy
Your great employees are those who deliver results but require minimum supervision. They make things look effortless, and create the processes, systems and procedures that enable others to be efficient and effortless too.
9. “A” players create a fun atmosphere
At SkyeTeam, "fun" appears 3 times in our 5 corporate values. This is critical to what makes us special – as a team we start every meeting with “Ripples and Joys” (an idea we adopted from CityYear Denver) and celebrate our successes personal and professional. We also look to have fun with our clients, to make working with us easy, fun and effective. Life is too short to take it seriously all the time.
These are our characteristics for your rock stars / A players. What would you add to this list? More to the point, who are your rock stars and unsung team members? And what's one thing you do today to ensure they feel valued for their contribution to the team?
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