THE BLOG

Don't Let Your Workplace Star Be the One That Got Away

08/23/2012 12:15 EDT | Updated 10/23/2012 05:12 EDT
Flickr: Victor1558

What difference does one person make? Does one staff member in your business make a difference to your customers' experience (and to your organization's success)? Does one friend or personal connection make a difference to the quality of your life?

I ran into Ben who used to work at a local hotel -- a place I frequented as my client booked a TON of rooms there to hold training, meeting and convention events. Ben left the hotel about a year ago. The difference his departure made was palpable. Very shortly after his leaving, my client pulled all of their business from that hotel. And trust me, it was a significant piece of business. How can I be sure it was because of Ben that they left? I know.

Ben was unbelievable at customer service and no one who replaced him came even close to him. I worked in that location over the last eight years and 'felt' his absence those odd time when Ben was away on vacation over those years -- things just weren't quite the same. The room was often not set up to specifications; the materials were left in the box, requiring me to take extra time in the morning to distribute them; the equipment was regularly wrong or just not there at all and the 'climate' was a lot cooler. None of that happened when Ben was there. He ALWAYS made sure at least the basics were covered, and then he went above a beyond the basics to truly make my day enjoyable. He cared about that and I got the sense that he cared about me too.

Ben has a lot of class. He didn't have anything bad to say about his past employer during our recent meeting. I know why he left, however. Ben was unappreciated and largely unnoticed by his employer. They missed the boat on this gem of a human being. Their loss, however, is Ben's new employer's gain. I hope the new employer recognizes that and nurtures it.

Tally is my hot yoga instructor. I always arrive early so I can lay in Shavasana for at least 10 minutes before class starts. Then, I wait for Tally's warm voice to welcome us. When it's not her voice, I have to admit, it bums me out. Even though the other instructors are knowledgeable, it's just not the same without Tally. Tally's classes are different. They are better.

Tally loves what she does for a living. It oozes through her pores. And I, as one of her students, believe that she cares about me and wants me to love it too. It's in the way she speaks, how she moves around the room, her gentle guidance when a pose is out of sync, her positive words of encouragement when she bids us Namaste at the end of the class. It's all that and more. It's a feeling you have when she is around. If Tally leaves my gym, I'd be very tempted to leave also. That's the difference she makes for me.

So, what difference does one person make? I'd say a lot. Is there that one person in your business that you are overlooking? A recent article in Workforce Magazine titled "Companies Can Name Their Stars but Struggle to Retain Them" Garry Kranz quotes a recent survey that says "86 per cent of companies report being able to identify star performers and nearly all companies express concern about losing their best employees".

So, the question to employers is: what are you waiting for? Do something about that concern! The article goes on to say "high performers are always able to find another job. And replacing one star with another isn't as easy as it sounds". Don't wait until you lose your 'Ben' or your 'Tally'. Talk to him or her right now, tell him what you appreciate about him, and ask her directly what you can do to help her continue to choose coming to work for you.

Remember, replacing that "one" is tougher than you think.

So what is it that makes someone a "star"? It's probably a combination of things. In the case of Ben and Tally, I believe it's that extra special care they take in what they do. It comes from inside -- from their passion for their calling. They just 'have "it", and it is a beautiful thing to witness. It's not about technical skill, it's all about heart.