A small business (or any business for that matter) is a lot like a team. You do team-building activities together, get competitive amongst each other, and push each other to be your best. And naturally, on a team, there are going to be standout players and there are going to be benchwarmers. That’s just the nature of the game.
So, for a manager, it’s easy to put the focus on developing lagging talent. Often the star performer gets ignored, brushed to the side, or simply held to a higher standard. But it’s important to remember that you have to keep the star performer engaged and challenged, so that they will want to continue to help the team succeed for as long as possible. After all, they are the backbone of the organization.
Dedicate time just for your stars: Get them to connect with something larger than themselves, and reward them with something truly valuable—more of your time. Spend one-on-one time with them. Support their growth and development by finding challenging projects for them.
Set guidelines to boost your stars career: Be a career agent. Be a real partner for them as they look to further their careers. Think past just paying them more and invest in training programs or coaching and mentoring programs — whatever you and your star agree will help him/her develop.
Think about more than pay: Do they want intellectual autonomy? Flexible hours? Find out what matters most to them and reward them based on that. This is vital, especially in small business situations, where budget is limiting.
Always draw your top talent back to the team focus. After all, without the benchwarmers and 2nd stringers, there wouldn’t be any stars.