What Makes a Star Performer?

Posted by Mimi Meredith at Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 8:09 am

For at least 12 years, the same man has served as the crosswalk guard at an intersection between our middle school and high school. I am sure there must have been days he was sick, or had a replacement, but I don't recall ever seeing anyone else at that corner.

He's always seemed "older", yet he hasn't visibly aged in the12 years I've been passing his corner. He rarely smiles. He doesn't wave at all the passing cars. He'll occasionally wave back, but not often.

In the early years of taking my boys and their friends to school, it used to be my personal challenge to make him smile back at me. But usually, he remained focused on the traffic and the students...you know...doing his job. I don't know that keeping middle school students safe and orderly requires a cheerful countenance.

It's interesting how we rate work.

I have personally championed movements to "hire friendly people" and I'm really great at teaching people the benefits of positive engagement. But tell me, would this stoic-looking man who has taken his post before dawn and again at 3 p.m. every day 180 days a year for at least 12 years be better off if he'd learned to lift his apples?


Here are three vital keys to remember when you evaluate employees:

A) They don't need to be like you. They don't even need to be like your best employee. They need to be their best. It's your job to support them in identifying and nurturing those traits.

B) They have to have an absolute commitment to doing the work, not just to having work.

C) They need to do the work well and consistently. (Honestly, "Star Performers" are only truly stellar when they show up to shine every day. Shooting stars are brilliant and exciting until their collapse leaves scorched earth and destruction all around them.)

I wonder if the Kyrene School District knows that one of their star performers won't be found in one of their buildings, but at his post at 27th Place and Liberty Lane?

Do you know what your best employees look like and where they are working? "Meets or Exceeds Expectations" hardly defines what they really bring to the job, does it?

Make sure you know where goodness grows. The best cultivators of your corporate culture may surprise you.