I’ve been accused of favouring stars – what’s wrong with that?

Dear Aunty B,

One of my staff told me in an exit interview that a major reason he was leaving was because our culture “favoured stars” and he was tired of being overlooked.

I understand why he might think that. We are a medium-sized financial services firm with a clear career path, mentoring and incentives, so that high performers can get to the top. We do have an aggressive culture where we celebrate success, so the “stars” get a lot of attention.

But I have always believed that is how you build a top firm.

Also he has always been a very self-contained individual who likes to run his own race. He is also a really solid performer who gets on well with others.

I am now concerned that more of my B team might leave. How do I keep my high performing culture and stop my solid performers leaving?

Peter W, 

Dear Peter,

Of course you like stars. You’re a star, aren’t you? So you prefer people in your own image. Don’t we all. But Peter, look around – who is it that ploughs your fields every day while the high maintenance stars fly around your galaxy making a whole lot of noise and demanding all your attention? Your so-called B team are the people on whom your long-term success lies.

Who’s on the B team? The B team includes those who have been with you an extraordinary amount of time, who have cultural knowledge, who adhere to top standards of quality because the company’s DNA is embedded in their own, and who often assist the D team or the New team to find their feet.

They often have not had a pay rise for a few years and you can rely on them day after day to produce great work AND NOT STUFF UP.

Now spend a minute mentally tracking how long you spend with a B team member in a given week. None?

Try and make every Monday a B team day, where you touch base with the bulwarks of your company. That is a day when you shoo away the needy, neurotic A team who crave your personal attention every second of the day and focus on the B team players.

Also be aware that the B team may prefer different recognition to stars. They might prefer training opportunities or more challenging projects.

And by the way, stop calling them the B team.

Call them your hidden stars. That way you will spend less time ignoring them and more time working out how to let them shine.

Be smart,

Aunty B

This piece was first published on 6 March, 2008. If you’ve got a question for Aunty B, remember to email auntyb@smartcompany.com.au


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