How do I Make All-Stars?

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by Julia Paulus (referencing Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems) SBM, March 2010

My biggest all-star employee just left the company to work for a competitor.  He was efficient, virtually mistake-free and energetic.  When he left, he took with him a bunch of unwritten knowledge about how he did his job.  I now have a couple of people that are similar in background and knowledge, but they just can’t match what this person was able to do.  Besides working on my employee retention, how can I get access to the hidden or tribal knowledge that people like this all-star have?  What is a way that I can document the habits that separate all-stars from bench warmers?

 – Missing My All-Star, Maryland Heights Business Owner

Provide Opportunities, Share Power

I interviewed Judy Ryan, Owner of LifeWork Systems.  Here’s what she had to say:

Workers are better informed than ever and sense a shift towards greater collaboration, mutual respect and democratic equality, and they want this at work.  Added to this is the fact that they desire four things as much or more than good pay.  Each employee wants to feel powerful, appreciated, connected and contributing.  These four core social needs are often not understood fully by owners and therefore inadvertently, they are not met well.

I remember a company I consulted with that did a great job helping its 60 employees feel appreciated and connected (lots of team building and acknowledgement).  Where the company fell down was that after inviting feedback (especially from their all-stars), it didn’t share power or provide opportunities for each to try their new ideas.

Finding a sense of meaningfulness in what one does is the first intrinsic motivator needed to be passionate about one’s work. The second intrinsic motivator is a sense of choice and that is what these employees were expressing when questioned. They wanted to have a say in the opportunities and ideas they wanted to test and implement without fear of reprisal. The third intrinsic motivator is becoming fully competent in your skills, both those for the job and also for the relationships one creates on the job. The fourth intrinsic motivator is to celebrate progress. Intrinsic motivation is what fosters the engagement and loyalty within a workforce because this builds upon a favorable and positive belief about people; that they want to be great!

Many leaders have been conditioned to use extrinsic motivation tactics based on fearful and limiting beliefs about people instead and this keeps them from developing and nurturing the intrinsic motivation in their staff. Rather than focus on a sense of meaningfulness, they think “I can’t trust your motives or you and I must manage you.” Instead of offering choices, they think, “I must motivate you by dangling carrots and insisting you jump through my hoops or you will be selfish and lazy otherwise.” 

Instead of offering greater support for competency, they think, “I must bestow praise or criticism on you because you need someone to focus on how you should improve or at the very least please the authority figures.” And instead of celebrating progress, they think, “These people are not that capable. I must rescue, exempt and enable most if not all of them.” These tactics reduce people from their A-game to their C- or lower-game.

When you are successful in creating true community and meet the four core needs of all people to feel powerful, appreciated, connected and able to contribute fully, you will find that people stay or, when they go, they leave supporting your increased success. challenge you to see the loss of your all-star(s) as the wake up call to create a workplace culture where every person is supported fully to become an all-star.  This will sustain you through growth and changes of every kind.  We are here to support your every success!

As published in the column The Extraordinary Workplace in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, June 2010

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners and executives, community leaders, parents, educators and individuals hire LifeWork Systems because they know that effective conditions and conversations make all the difference in building trusting relationships, achieving dreams, and creating solutions and innovations for our evolving world. When people are happy and responsible, emotionally and socially intelligent, confident, and appropriately seen, heard, and supported, they always exceed expectations. We help instill into every person common concepts, terms, tools, and processes that result in healthy, happy, caring and contributing individuals, teams and organizations. Our mission is to create a world in which all people love their lives!

We appreciate you being here on our website and encourage you to reach out to us directly at or  314.239.4727. May something we offered in this article and website help you love YOUR life ~ because YOU matter!

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