Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather 150 150 Sharon Smith

You know the saying, birds of a feather flock together, but have you ever considered what that means for your business or organization?

In this discussion the birds are your workforce, your employees. Top talent, the Rock Stars that seem to be so elusive want to be in organizations that not only appreciate their hard work and talent, but also don’t put up with mediocrity from everyone else. When you find an organization filled with A players it is because they flock to each other, they support each other, they inspire, influence, and make work a great place to be.

Do you have the Rock Stars that I’m talking about the A and B players? Those who go above and beyond, have new creative ideas, get behind the company and mission, and bend over backwards for your clients and customers? Or do you have average or below average workers (C and D players)? You know who I am talking about, those employees that do the bare minimum to get by or even worse aren’t doing much of anything.

When you find an organization with C and D players it seems like everyone is just hanging in there; no one really cares about doing better. They are getting by with just enough to keep them employed and everyone around them is doing the same. What incentive do they have to become A or B players and why would the A and B players stick around? People want to be around like-minded individuals.

The same is true outside of work. Have you ever looked at social circles and noticed what they have in common? Usually they have a lot in common. The type of work they do, the amount of money they make, how they spend their money, their health, and their ambitions You don’t often find groups with a big mix because like attracts like and that rule is the same whether you are looking at social circles, family dynamics, or work environments.

It has been said that you will become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around. How does that translate to your business? It means that your business cannot be better than the average of your workforce?

Okay, I know this might sound depressing, so let’s look at the ways to employ Rock Star talent, not only in hiring them off the bat, but turning your average employees into A and B players.

Hire Differently – It is no longer acceptable to hire the way you have in the past. A job description does not actually provide the right information to determine if someone is going to be a top performer or an average one. The experience people have on paper is not who they are and you have to hire the whole person, not just the person’s experience.

For example, my resume reads very well, with lots of technical experience in a very niche cyber security field. If I were to apply to a job where that experience fit the job description I would be a great candidate. But when you peel back the layers of who I am and get to the deeper levels of the whole person I make a horrible candidate for that position. They need someone who can ask the same questions over and over again, enjoys working independently, and is happy to write the same long report for every client. While I can do those things and have done those things with great success I was not happy with the work because I like change and innovation, I like to be in a community and collaborate, and I like to deliver creatively. That job was not one that I was going to innovate, go above and beyond for, find new solutions, or stick around for more than a few years.

It’s about creating a personality or persona for the position and matching the candidate to it before looking at skills and experience. Someone can learn a skill if they are the right match energetically for the position and do much better than someone who has the experience and is not an energetic match for the work.

If a position requires the individual spend 50% their time working independently and the person applying loves to be around and collaborate with people they may have a hard time being engaged and could eventually become an average employee, or they will leave. This of course is just one of many examples on how a person needs to align with the position at a much deeper level than skill set.

There are lots of ways to do this and tools you can use. I personally use the Core Values Index (CVI) to do this and am happy to tell you more about it, just shoot me an email to subject line: Tell me more about the CVI for hiring.

Create a Culture of Engagement – This does not necessarily mean Ping-Pong tables in the break room or really cool employee benefits like wearing jeans to work and discount movie tickets. A culture of engagement has to do with your workforce being aligned with the mission of the organization, doing work that lights them up, and going above and beyond because they want to provide excellence.

In my 10+ years as a consultant I rarely saw this type of engaged culture; mainly I saw fairly toxic environments, which is why I wrote The Corporate Detox ( or There were too many employees dissatisfied, too many managers who were disengaged from their teams, and too many projects that were behind schedule and over budget.

Engagement happens when people feel heard and honored for who they are and how they work. Trying to fit all employees into a mold of when they come to work or how they work will create disengaged employees. I understand that you can’t have employees coming to work at noon and there has to be some core hours that everyone is working, but you can honor each employee by hearing them, knowing them, and tailoring as much as you can to who they are.

This means having real conversations and caring about your people. Not just once a year during the annual review, but continuously. Do you know their career goals, do they know their career goals, do you know about them on a personal level, do you ask questions beyond that of what they are working on? When people feel heard they will naturally be more engaged. This is not about more employee satisfaction surveys, this is about getting out from behind your desk and talking to your people; but more than just talking, it’s about listening.

Focus on High Performance – This is a topic that I am becoming obsessed with because there is such a difference between those who are motivated to become high achievers and the rest of the world. Since I find that the average person is not focused on high achievement, how do you create a high performance team or organization? Of course hiring those with this mindset helps, but sometimes you end up hiring other people too. So the key is teaching your entire workforce to have a high performance mindset.

When people work together you want them to know and respect each other, have the same mission for the project or organization, and be able to work together regardless of differing opinions. The way you build a team, nurture the team, and foster teamwork will make or break how well your team performs. T
he more creative a team can be in how they think, the better their results will be. This means that there is an environment of safety. There are no dumb answers and no bad ideas. Everyone is invited to participate in discussions and share what they are thinking. This is where each member of the team is able to use their natural abilities, strengths, skills, and unique brilliance in a way that honors them.

Now, where do you go from here? This was a high level discussion on how to create important change. Hiring differently, creating engagement, and focusing on high performance is a process that will take time. It is my role is to help you figure this out, to help you take C and D players and turn them into A and B players. What if it were really possible to only hire A and B players going forward and to completely change the low engagement that is so prevalent in most organizations.

What would your business and your life look like if you went to work every day surrounded by the best of the best people? What will your business look like a year from now if you don’t learn how to do this now?

For more information on hiring and retaining top talent and creating high performance teams, schedule a consult call with me by sending an email to subject line: I want Rock Star Talent!