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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.

When you are successful in creating true community and meet the four core needs, you will find that people stay or, when they go, they leave supporting your increased success.  I challenge you to see the loss of your all-star as the wake up call to create a workplace where every person becomes an all-star.  This will sustain you through growth and change.  Best of luck!

Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Her mission is to help people create lives they love. She can be reached at 314-239-4727.

As published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly March 2010