Kim Scott, an entrepreneur and Silicon Valley veteran, published a book in April 2017 called Radical Candor, in which she offers a framework for becoming a better boss by caring personally and challenging directly. One of the concepts Scott introduces is the idea of “rock stars” vs. “super stars.” The basic premise is that every great employee has a different growth trajectory and should be managed and recognized differently based on their strengths - in other words, by whether they are “rock stars” or “super stars.” They’re both the type of employees who will rise in their careers, but what’s the difference when it comes to performance management?
It may seem obvious that different types of employees need to be managed differently, yet Gallup found that 1 in 2 U.S. adults have left jobs to get away from their managers. Clearly, there’s more work to be done. Here are a few tips for delivering a more personalized management style, and for educating your team leaders on how to follow this practice:
A key responsibility of any manager is to filter incoming work; take advantage of this position and feed your employees the type of work they crave. If your employee enjoys variety, hand him or her multiple short-term projects instead of a year-long engagement. If your employee just had a new baby, don’t give that person work that requires travel. If a team member enjoys writing, provide opportunities for content development. While it’s not possible to meet the exact needs of every single person, the effort on your end will be noticed and appreciated.
Employee recognition is often viewed as a function separate from management. On the contrary, sharing tokens of appreciation should be a routine part of your relationship with an employee. Be thoughtful about what type of employee reward is most meaningful to the recipient.
A gift card to Starbucks, for instance, may be fine for certain people but can come off as an insincere and transactional gesture to others. Just as public praise may be rewarding for one individual but embarrassing for another. Make it personal! We know it can be hard to recognize employees personally and at scale, but that’s where Blueboard's experiential rewards can help (check out our product offering here).
Employees change. And it’s the manager’s responsibility to evolve with them. Don’t become complacent and assume your team is just as happy as they were three months ago. For example, your employee Sally may start off the year as a “super star” but finds the perfect role for herself and becomes a “rock star” instead, craving the ability to mature in her role and deepening her area of expertise. Don’t ruin Sally’s career trajectory by blindly giving her a new task or change in direction that she no longer wants. Instead, keep employees involved in the process to check your assumptions and to confirm they’re still engaged in their work. Gallup research revealed that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores, so clearly, your role and individual attention towards top employees makes a huge difference.
The purpose of personalizing your management style isn’t to coddle your employees. It’s to demonstrate that you care about them on a personal level - not just as a manager. When your team recognizes this sincerity, it’ll make for a happier workplace for everyone involved and a more positive impact on your business goals.
As we mentioned in Tip #2, employee rewards are a key part of management. If you work with someone who enjoys tackling new experiences and dabbling in various activities, consider giving the gift of Blueboard. They can choose from our catalog of hand-curated experiences, including everything from kitesurfing to glassblowing lessons to salsa dancing. Check out our most popular experiential rewards here.