Imagine the employee that you would consider to be a star performer in your business. What are their behavioral habits? What attitudes do they reveal by the way they speak to customers and coworkers, their promptness for their work day, their achievement of positive results? Are these outstanding employees born, or are they made?
The nature-nurture argument
There has been a lot of back and forth about how much you can affect the way someone behaves. The genetics proponents say that we’re hard-wired for certain things. This often comes out in discussions about whether women should be in front line duty in the military. Armchair discussion and even policy making contains controversy about whether women are tough enough, or whether men can resist the urge to protect women soldiers where it might place a unit at risk to do so.
Most recently some authors have settled on a 50-50 split. We are half the product of nature, and half the product of nurture. You could say that there are people who seem to be “born leaders,” and they may have inbred assets of height, voice, or temperament. But there are some people with those same assets who don’t excel at or even pursue leadership roles.
The argument for development
Will Serena Williams’ baby be outstanding at tennis someday? Even with those superb Williams genetics, if the child is never taken onto the court and given lessons, physical training and a chance to compete, the offspring of the world champion won’t be another world champion.
Genetics create the potential for performance. Education creates the potential for performance at work. Certifications and pre-employment tests reveal the potential for performance at work. The potential will never truly convert to performance, though without some intention on your part as a leader to bring it out. This isn’t always hard, cumbersome, or time-consuming to do. You just need to choose to do it if you want to make sure it happens.
Making outstanding employees
It’s said that management is cause and all else is effect. If you’re driving the company you have the bell around your neck for making sure some of these things are happening:
- Clear statement of company vision of values, and communicating it to employees
- Communication of performance expectations, and providing the tools to get it done
- Opportunities to obtain training
- Regular performance feedback
- Safe and engaging workplace
- Opportunities to recharge and recuperate
- Recognition and reward, including promotion opportunities
- Work processes that are effective and efficient
When hiring you certainly want to look for people who are prepared to fulfill the requirements of the position for which you are interviewing. It’s a better hire when the person is also aligned with your company’s core values, because that means that they will share some of your decision-making standards. It is an outstanding hire when you bring on board the raw material that is going to help you take your company into a prosperous future. Then it’s your job to mold it.