Super Troupers: how to manage your brightest stars


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It’s great to have superstars on your team. It might be a sales hot shot or a marketing whizz or perhaps a technological genius. It’s a joy to have someone capable who solves problems, is reliable, has fabulous ideas, who doesn’t need your attention the whole time and who doesn’t need managing. But, therein lies the problem: managing. Your super trouper certainly does need managing. S/he needs developing and guiding. So, how should you do it? How do you let your stars shine whilst keeping them on the right path?


1. Identify career ambitions

Firstly, and most importantly, you need to identify your superstars’ drivers. What do they most want and need? Is it money? How about challenge, or recognition? And what about promotion, or variety? Perhaps it’s a combination of these things? Unless you genuinely know what makes people tick, you won’t be able to retain them in the long-term.

In order to identify their ambitions you need to invest time in earning trust, as well as having honest conversations. This is a crucial investment!

2. Provide them with the tools

Very few things are more dis-engaging to great performers than not having the tools to do their job. Whether it’s the latest machinery or cutting edge technology, you need to give your people the best tools for their jobs. If you don’t, the signal you’re sending out is that you don’t care about productivity (or your people)!

3. Develop them

In most recent surveys about what employees are looking for, personal development comes out near the top of requirements. If you want to keep hold of your brightest and best stars, you need to demonstrate that you offer the best development for them as people as well as employees.

4. Give opportunities

The best people love challenges and new opportunities. The moment they’re bored or feel they can do their job too easily, they’ll be scanning job adverts. Keep your brightest people interested by giving them high profile and high impact projects. They will then feel that they are valued and are making a real difference.

5. Praise

Every year, surveys show that it’s at least as important to say thank you as it is to pay well. However capable and confident people are, they still need thanks from their boss. It costs nothing (except a bit of thoughtfulness) and goes an incredibly long way.

6. Pay

Pay is still hugely important. Perhaps it’s because people view their self-worth as being closely linked to what they’re paid (especially compared with their peers). So, pay your superstars as much as you can afford!

If you’ve got some super troupers on your team, ensure you’ve got a plan to look after them, or risk losing them. Don’t underestimate how much you need those sharp minds. In the words of Silicon Valley marketing executive, Guy Kawasaki, “ideas are easy. Implementation is hard”. And it’s your brightest stars who can help you with that.


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