In the last few years, it has become increasingly important in Talent Acquisition to get creative star performers into your company in order to ensure economic success. At least, this is what Aguinis Herman and Ernest O’Boyle Jr. say in the latest edition of Personnel Psychology (which is one of my favourite readings as a psychologist). In this and the next blog post, I will dig deeper into the topic of “star performers.” Who are they, actually? Why are they so important, almost indispensable, for a company’s success? In the second blog post, I will get down to the nitty-gritty: How exactly does HR need to change to attract and retain those star performers?
Who are these “Star Performers” after all?
There are a lot of anecdotes about Star Performers. For example, the programmer Shigeru Miyamoto developed many years ago, virtually as a one-man show, a computer game in which a monkey throws barrels around. Thanks to video game consoles, he managed to get the company Nintendo, which was, at that time, about to go bankrupt, on top again. Mr. Miyamoto is an example of a star performer.
Star performers are the 0.1% who succeed in making a start-up company super successful instead of going broke, those researchers that create a new trend instead of optimising old things, those who manage to turn a simple brand into a cult through an ingenious marketing strategy.
Wanted: short innovation cycles need star performers
The well-known formula for performance is as follows: Performance = Motivation PLUS knowledge PLUS skills and abilities MINUS restrictions and obstacles.
Many of these barriers have decreased these days: there are fewer local restrictions, faster communication, flattening of hierarchies. The markets have become more competitive and innovation cycles shorter. Just think of the market for mobile devices, where former great players have become completely meaningless within a few years, because they missed the boat and innovation was lacking.
Both – more vital corporate structures and competitive markets with high pressure to innovate – make it necessary for companies to attract star performers, to identify and retain them.
Ingenious software developers 10,000 times more valuable than the average developer
Traditionally, the value of labor power in the industrial sector was described as a normal distribution with little deviation up or down. This has changed fundamentally. Bill Gates described it this way: a good worker can perhaps deliver two or three times more value than an average worker, but a brilliant software developer can potentially deliver 10,000 times more than an average developer.
Depending on Star performers – What does this mean for your company?
If – due to these new conditions – the recruitment of star performers is so crucial for your company’s success, your HR department will have to consider the following items/ changes:
— SET UP INDIVIDUAL SELECTION PROCESSES —
In a homogeneous workforce with homogeneous products, it was relatively easy to find stable competency dimensions for applicants that predicted professional success. TODAY, you have to set up individualized selection processes.
— CONSIDER NEW JOB REQUIREMENTS —
Given shorter product cycles, hyper competitive environments, and a progressive specialization, the specific job requirements change constantly and rapidly … a real challenge for recruiters!
— ADAPT REWARDS & BENEFITS —
Systems must be adapted to the new circumstances and this goes far beyond monetary incentives. You have to meet the needs of the individual person, which could show in, for example, allowing sabbaticals or flexible working hours.
— THROW OLD STANDARDS AWAY —
Corporate culture and norms that traditionally provided stability, are becoming increasingly blurred by teleworking, faster communication, internationalization and diversification. Ancient culture and norms need to be reconsidered.
Does getting the star performers mean you’ll be successful?
Does this mean I just need to focus personnel selection processes and development to recruiting and developing these few high potentials in order to make my company take off? Well, that would be too easy;)
→ Firstly, the star performers can reach their full potential only if everyone else in the team fullfills their tasks. (That reminds me of a successful soccer team where team work is everything …)
→ On the other hand, there are some conditions that cannot be influenced. This includes the fact that you sometimes need to be in the right place at the right time, as Malcolm Gladwell, an American author, wrote in his highly interesting book on Outliers. (see source below)
Read more on how to take your Talent Acquisition to a new level by setting up innovative recruiting processes.