Every team has at least one star player. Take basketball for instance. LeBron James dominates for the Los Angeles Lakers while Stephen Curry rises to the top for the Golden State Warriors. While the workplace is a very different setting from the court, there are similarities. As a manager, you have identified who on your team you can rely on time and time again. You know who to pass the ball to when it’s gametime.
While it’s easy to rely on James and Curry time and time again, there are others playing on the court too. If you only focus on the stars, you run the risk of wearing them out and completely sidelining the others. This is the essence of teamwork, a way to improve productivity through forming close bonds with one another. If a star player never gets the ball, they will never score. The same goes for your work team, as everyone is responsible for a particular goal for the greater good of the company.
At the end of the day, every manager wants their team to perform the best. Looking to your star players is one way to understand how to rise above. Curious on how to start learning from your own team’s top performers? Here are three ways you can learn from your best performers to improve your entire team.
1. Get Feedback
If your superstar employee is happy and engaged, then you’re likely doing something right. Yet, they may have prior experience with a manager that really understood their challenges. Asking for feedback is the first step in the learning process. After all, you can’t replicate the employee’s best traits without knowing what is and isn’t working well for them. Ensure you have a two-way dialogue so the employee feels they are supported and can really provide a constructive review.
Besides asking your employee, another way to get feedback is by going straight to the data. Data, such as sales numbers or revenue numbers, can back up why your top performer is really at the top. Of course, you have to really dig in and understand what you’re looking at. This is where performance analytics — a methodology to measure how your team can maximize performance — comes into play. With this tool, you can analyze where they are excelling and how to mimic these wins across your team.
With this information at hand, you can pass it onto your other teammates without bragging or shining the light only on your top performer. The data will speak for itself. If the top performer has better sales because they follow up after sales calls, you could train all employees how to have a successful follow up. You get to learn about best practices, and data helps you implement changes that can lead to improvement across the board.
2. Provide Mentorship Opportunities
Mentorship can provide numerous benefits for your employees and the company overall. It’s a way to establish more personal connections within the team itself. With this setup, individuals will be less likely to underperform because they know their workmates are counting on them. They’ll also have someone to talk to about problems, which can help mitigate issues that hinder performance.
You may be wondering how a mentorship program will benefit your top performer or why they will be motivated to serve in this way. Chances are, they are looking for ways to grow in their own careers. This may look like taking on a leadership role and managing their own team one day. If so, mentorship is a win-win scenario. The mentor can develop their leadership skills while the mentee can improve their own individual performance.
The mentorship opportunity at your company can be as rigid or as loose as you see fit. However, no matter how your program looks, you need buy-in from both the mentor and mentee. Both parties must be compelled to participate in order for it to work. Check in with both individuals and see how it’s going or benefiting both of them. You may find it’s a short-lived relationship, or it could turn into a lifelong bond.
3. Establish Trust
You know that your star performer will perform. So, you don’t need to micromanage them or constantly ask them how it’s going. You can focus on your own day’s tasks knowing they will come to you when a problem arises. This is the epitome of a trusting work relationship, one that should be replicated for the team as a whole. Moreover, a trusting work environment allows for better performance and better collaboration.
To establish team-wide trust, learn from your top performer and see how they interact with you. When you give them a challenging project, how do they respond to it? Likely, they are up for the challenge and want to take it on. They may come to you with questions, but they’ve probably already thought about how to approach the situation. You aren’t grading them or critiquing them when they don’t know the answer.
Utilize this same approach with the rest of your team. If an employee asks you a question, give them time to see how they would move forward. Let’s say they come to you and ask how to put a set of stats into a marketing presentation. Instead of giving them your input, ask them to come back with two options and a rationale for both. This teaching moment is a way of establishing trust in them and their capabilities.
Learning from your top performers can improve your team and lead to overall success. By examining the behaviors of your allstars, you can motivate others to do better through training. And by fostering relationships within the team, every member will feel valued. Over time, performance will improve, and you’ll have a team of star performers.