How to Clone Your Best Employee

Wish all your employees were like your best employee? Here are tips for creating more rockstars in your business.

Hi There, Desiree here. 

I enjoy these articles from American Express because they are always on point. We are constantly looking for solutions epically since most of our current team is virtual.  It requires an extra amount of communication, coordination and usage of solutions such as google hangouts, join.me and trello.

But, the basics always apply and I found great value freelance Journalist, Geoff Williams article.

Enjoy!

NOVEMBER 13, 2015 

Do you have an amazing, incredible employee who stands out from the rest of your staff? You may have a problem.

It doesn’t sound like a problem, of course. You wanted to hire someone incredible, and you did. But if you’ve ever wondered what you would do without them, you can start to see your potential crisis. If you have an employee you consider virtually indispensable, and that employee quits or retires, you don’t want to be in a position of having your company crumble around you.

In other words, you should be doing everything you can to clone your employee.

If you’re trying to clone your best hire, here are some tips.

Have your best employees train new employees. 

You might feel you should do all the training, or that a middle-range or lesser performing employee should be breaking in someone new, while the best employees keep the company running.

But that would be a huge mistake, claims Kathy Stokes, who co-owns a PostNet franchise in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with her husband, Terry. The Stokeses have six full-time employees and have owned their franchise for 18 years. Her first employee, Karlyn Wagner, still works for her, and whenever Stokes makes a new hire, Wagner is the primary trainer.

“You want to create a culture in your business where everyone is encouraged to have good staff behaviors,” Stokes says, adding that she has found that “as long as I have those one or two rockstars who get it, and really understand what the business is about, then we can always train the new ones coming in.”

Let the subpar employees go. 

Obviously, you should give employees a chance, and you should want a culture where people can be free to make the occasional mistake without fear of reprisal.

“Working and business should be fun. Many employees are not being paid enough, but they will stick around a quality work environment,” says Bruce Brown, who owns Brown Marketing Consulting and is a consultant in Los Angeles specializing in sales training.

But at the same time, if some of your employees turn out to be hateful and are bringing down the business with their negativity or poor performance, it’s important to not let them hang on for too long.

“If you allow sour grapes into the environment and people who don’t follow the company’s culture, then that’s what the new employees will learn. Pretty soon, you’ll have a new culture, one that you don’t necessarily want,” Stokes says.

Be careful about singling out your star employee. 

It’s one thing if you have a small staff and your model employee has been around for years. They’re going to expect that longtime employee to be, for lack of a better phrase, “teacher’s pet.” But if your star employee hasn’t been around awhile, holding that person up as someone to emulate can backfire.

“My suggestion is, don’t hold one employee up as a model. That will cause resentments and break down team relationships,” says Kelly Drake, who owns Resolve, a conflict and workplace mediation company in Charleston, South Carolina.

Jonathan Ceballos, human resources director at USB Memory Direct, a Cooper City, Florida-based company that creates custom USB flash drives and has 23 employees, agrees that you should tread carefully here. He explains that one of the company’s star employees now trains the new hires, but before she did, Ceballos made sure everyone knew the employee was going to go through her own training program.

“Since she herself had to go through our training on how to train others, it made it feel like everyone was on the same boat and so we also never ran into any employee resentment problems,” he says.

Even though the star employee’s training was different—she was trained on how to train people—going that route “makes it clear to everyone that no one is above anybody else and that this is something that is going to help everybody out,” Ceballos says.

Michael Lastoria, CEO of &Pizza, which has 11 restaurants in the Washington, DC, area, recommends that if your star employee is training other staff, they use the word, “we,” not “I.”

The word “we,” Lastoria says, “encourages camaraderie among the tribe and helps drive success by making it about the shop and not the individual.”

Reward employees. 

If you have a fairly large and unmotivated staff, Brown agrees there can be a danger in highlighting someone as the best and making everyone resent their fellow coworker—but not if you do it in a way that rewards everyone for following your model employee. In other words, make the focus on rewarding good behavior and work habits, rather than on one employee being more skilled than the others.

“I always suggest ‘bribes’ of some sort,” Brown says. That could mean an extra day off with pay, a gift card or a free lunch of somebody’s choice every Friday for a month, “or any number of possible pay-offs.”

And if you think your employees shouldn’t be rewarded for doing something they should be doing anyway, Brown argues, “bite the bullet and give them a bribe that does not cost more than the savings or additional profits gained from the cooperation.”

Keep your star employee happy. 

You could find that your star employee resents everyone else, or you, if you’re constantly rewarding everyone else. Wagner at PostNet has “been here 18 years. She can work whatever hours she wants,” Stokes says. “If she needs time off, she gets it. She works remotely when she wants to. Now that she has kids in middle school, that helps greatly with her.”

Stokes also says that the raises are built on a bonus system, and she offers a paid vacation and other benefits.

“We’re a small business, but we try to give our employees a reason to stay a good long while,” she says.

Lastoria agrees that you should give back to the employees giving their all to your company. He says that particularly when it comes to their employees who demonstrate a stellar work ethic, he and his leadership team “are constantly listening to feedback and doing what we can to encourage their growth and development.”

And it seems to be working. “Our strongest performers, our best cultural fits, those people who we really felt had the most potential, have not left,” he says.

And if you do that, you may find that even if your star employees do eventually leave, you’ll get far more advance notice than the standard two weeks, Stokes suggests.

“When we hire people, we make them understand that we know some people won’t stay, that this is just part of the path of their life,” she says. “We let them know that because they’re such a valuable employee when they decide to go, the more notice they can give us so we can collectively find a replacement for them, the better.”

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