Identify and nurture the key persons around you is the difference between a successful team with the best players or a bunch of people struggling to make things work.
Besides sharing all the valuable experiences I gained from the projects I’ve been in, I’ll also write about some lessons I learned playing MMORPG games (I played a lot until having my first kid… once PH was born, my priorities changed a lot!). To give some background, our guild became one of the greatest in the server / world we played, and I was very proud of all our conquests. In our golden ages, I had the opportunity to lead over a 100 mates in battle, and now thinking of it I realize how many lessons I learned with it.
One of these lessons defines the title of this post: keep the best or get used to working with the rest. Regardless of where you are (in a project, career, life, you name it), keeping the best people around you is a key factor for your success, and in online games it isn’t any different.
It might seem to be simple, but it’s a continuous and restless exercise which if you don’t put enough attention to, you’ll eventually lose someone important.
The first problem is identifying the best. Jack Welch mentions this challenge in his amazing ‘Winning’, where he clearly points out that it’s a continuous process to always know who are the top performers (and the underperformers as well). So, when assessing people, you cannot think of only one characteristic (even if a person is amazingly good in one aspect), but always searching for the best person for the best role. Sometimes, the best person for a task isn’t the strongest or more seasoned you have in the pool, basically because usually the most seasoned person will be always (hopefully) searching for greater challenges. If you still put your best men to do ordinary tasks for any reason (ensure things will be ok, for instance), you’ll realize that all efforts will be a waste of time if the challenges you have aren’t enough, as eventually this person will leave you because she’s feeling frustrated, upset or bored. So, in case you have an over skilled person around, I’d say there are two choices: increase challenges accordingly or ensure you won’t suffer when one goes away.
Having clear who are the best people for the challenges you have, get to know them. Constantly. It’s easy to keep one closer when there’s more than a single common interest relationship, i.e. ‘gold rewards’. Gold is the first linkage between both sides, and you must tirelessly strive to understand what the next linkage levels are for each one. Some may be desiring more challenges, some may want more acknowledgement (a higher position in the group, for instance), some may want more time to invest in oneself, one just wants to be closer to the leadership for chit chat. And of course one may want more gold, obviously. The point is that gold is easily replaceable (any guild can offer it, and a few can offer far more than yours), but offering a sound relationship is not as easy. If you don’t know what one wants, try the old fashioned way, being objective and asking. But clearly state that the more complex the objective is, the longer it will take to have it. Patience and confidence is the key.
Ok, you found the best people and know what they want. What’s next? Make sure everyone else knows it as well. Why? I see two main outcomes of praising publicly your top performers:
- Praise is one of the most effective rewards one can ever receive
- It will motivate anyone who’s trying to be the best, to try harder
Enclosing the environment, remember that in order to have the best, you must offer the best. So, having in mind that every person has his own needs, remember that they’re the most important asset you have: people. So, threat them well, nurturing their skills with constant incentives and opportunities to grow (according to both company and their needs) remembering that, even in a company with 5 or 5.000 employees, everyone is unique on their needs and want to be treated as such.
And remember, that it’s a continuous circle that will break apart the minute you stop paying attention to it.
So, in short, to keep the best around:
- Know who’s your best
- Get to know your chosen ones
- Keep improving the relationship with your top performers
- Keep improving the environment you offer to your employees
Are you comfortable pointing out the starts on your team? And what was the last time you told them how great they are?