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  Like Phil Jackson to Michael Jordan, you should be a talent manager. Every team needs a Jordan, a star player. Your role in management is to identify or create one. And then get your entire team to support him. This seems like an easy part, the harder part is even keeping them. But let’s start with finding them.
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Today, to break down the concept of finding a star player using Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan as a graphical metaphor, let me tell us a story. Michael Jordan, like others, had just potentials. That’s not tangible, but the concept at Chicago Bulls was simple. The coach was Phil Jackson. Phil knowing that talent is never enough (it needs refinement and structure) watched this skinny kid called Jordan for months at arrival. He noticed a strange pattern in his play (that’s what happens in “smart organizations when you analyze data). He noticed he subconsciously shot from a point (trend analysis), he observed and identified his amazing accuracy alongside strengths and with chalk, circled and marked out those areas in the basketball court where he was most likely to have his best shots (Competitive Advantage). That was it! The coach ensured that Jordan mastered those areas (Market Segment) and then as a secret, the entire team knew those spots (Distribution Network). So during real play, every team member knew to ensure that the game flows towards those points just so he could take his best shots from those points (Successful Delivery). What’s your strategy for finding and developing good talent? What’s your strategy for keeping them? In today’s business world, it’s hard to find good people, but harder to keep them. The hardest part even is making them stay long enough for you to build growth, vision, and maybe your succession. It’s the founder and CEO’s dilemma. You have to create a special set out of your entire lot for this. You have to identify and build intentionally what you desire. To build succession will require that out of your many, that there are the most highly competent (highfliers) and loyal ones. That intersection is mainly personality-based. It starts from identifying those fit enough to be called highfliers. In earmarking a team member(s) for takeover, loyalty can be relative. Most highfliers are not loyal to the brand, but loyal to their needs that have to do with the brand. Just like the law of diminishing returns, as time goes into it, retention of that loyalty and commitment drops. It is best to identify highfliers with the right personality and SKA (Skill, Knowledge and Ability) to build succession with. It can’t be everyone but a subset of your perfect fit (those with competence, leadership traits and loyalty). When you identify those earmarked, communicate it to them. Codename them; (in this case, I have called them “Inner Circle”). And then put them on a special plan.


Keeping the right people and making them part of your succession planning is beyond vision, salary, work, and a good working condition. You should first identify who has potential. This takes a team assessment and human resource audit in line with some predefined metrics that must be set. For those you earmark, let them know. Generally, even when you find those fit to plan with, there are five levels of their human needs that should be important in considering grooming them for the workplace. Within each level are specific needs that allow for an individual to feel fulfilled. But it’s only a matter of time once a level is fulfilled that the staff guns for the next level. The following are series of different things that must be done interdependently yet concurrently in line with succession planning.
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Structure And Promotions

We will have to draw out a promotion plan. Having a structure, a culture, and an organogram that they can aspire to grow with to the top is powerful. One strategy to retain employees is consistent and transparent promotion. Most employees (if not all) desire to climb the pyramid of their hierarchy of needs up to the level of self-actualization. This can be achieved through a carefully conducted periodic performance appraisal to measure employee’s performance in relations to organizational goals and objectives. Although some of these employees may come in initially to satisfy their physiological needs, the management must design a transparent and consistent career path for them to guarantee growth and improvement. Employees tend to stay longer in organizations that provide them with opportunities for growth. However, this promotion must be accompanied by a significant increase in monetary rewards to further motivate the employees.

Ownership Opportunities And Partnership

Show them that there is an opportunity to own a part of the business over time. Employees who have worked in the organization for at least 5-10 years should be considered for profit sharing, shareholding or partnership. This further creates a psychological connection to the organization and also motivates such employee for better performance since the success or failure of the organization would have a direct impact on his/her dividends.

Open Communication And A Culture For Feedback

Employees must be heard in the organization in order to retain them. In an autocratic system, where the employees are only on the receiving end, job dissatisfaction is most likely to creep in, thereby leading to labour turnover. The “Inner Circle” employees must be positioned as strategic business partners with the employers rather than the “lord and serfs” relationship. Opinions of the employees must be sought on every necessary matter, as bilateral agreements are more prone to implementation rather than unilateral imposition.

Use Of Data Analytics To Find The Right  Highflyer And Succession

At the point of recruitment, special attention must be given to the personality traits and work experience of the prospective employees. Certain personality types are less loyal and more restless. Also, a trend analysis of their work history reveals a lot more. Oftentimes, some of these employees are inconsistent at their previous workplaces spending a relatively short duration at each workplace. This can be analyzed for correlation and regression via a time series to ascertain the probability of such employees exiting the firm when recruited.

Mentorship Planning, Job Rotation And Cross-Functional Training

Because they are special, they should be specially and up-closely mentored. We need to draw out a mentorship plan. Also, employees often get bored doing the same routine job, over time. The “Inner Circle” team members need to be moved between units no matter how good they seem in one unit.

Managing And Living Up To Their Expectations

The management must strive to live up to the expectations of the employees. Use data, focus groups, town hall meetings, retreat to feel their pulse. Oftentimes, the management breaches agreements reached at the point of entry into an organization. This causes grievance, which may escalate to dispute, then conflict. Management must agree to only achievable propositions during recruitment, so as to avoid disappointing the employee which may cause him/her to exit the workplace altogether. In summary, whether life, a team or in business, we all need star players in our team.  The more they are in our mix, the better our growth. It’s our role to identify and support them. Every team needs a star player. The Beatles had John Lennon, Destiny Child had Beyonce, Apple had Steve Jobs. Super Eagles had Okocha. Sometimes they even come in groups. Coordinating that group requires a special level of intelligence and teamwork. In the journey to greatness, T.E.A.M means Together, Everyone Achieves More. With teamwork, common people can attain uncommon results. Individually, we are just droplets, together we rain. We will reign. Sitting in a few boards of fast-growing firms and running an organization and also seeing empires rise and fall, I’ve come to the conclusion that “There’s no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” In the words of Michael Jordan, Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win Championships. Featured Image Source: Goraceit Business Activelink
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This article was first published on 25th May 2021


Uwaoma Eizu is the founder and lead strategist of the Hexavian group. He is a graduate of Mathematics with two Master's Degrees, a PMP and other management certifications.

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