I was reading an article by Jeff Haden (Contributing Editor at Inc.) on the 8 Signs an Employee Is Exceptional (Which Never Appear on Performance Evaluations). It was an interesting list and included among other things; They think beyond the job description, they are not afraid to ask questions, they like to prove others wrong and they are constantly exploring.
Can Exceptional Be Created?
What got me thinking was that while he accurately pointed out those things that make for an exceptional employee and therefore how to look for them, was it possible to "create" this type of employee? What would a team of these types of employees look like?
I believe you can create them and in fact Performance Leadership is predicated upon that belief. In combining a potent mix of operational excellence, continuous improvement and behavioural science the goal is to create employees who will practice what we call "discretionary behaviours." These types of behaviours have been the highlight of so many WestJet commercials for example, where staff go out of their way to provide industry leading client experiences. (Looking forward to see what they do this Christmas for example!)
After all, if one were to define "discretionary behaviours" wouldn't that include going beyond the job description, asking the hard questions to know the need better, proving others wrong by performing beyond what was thought possible and always exploring better ways to get things done? Of course it is!
Turning Lead Into Gold!
Finding an exceptional employee is like finding a diamond in the rough but creating a team of this type of employees is really the equivalent of the ancient alchemy of turning lead into gold! And it is possible! I know because I have witnessed it first-hand.
I won't go into all the details in today’s post but I will give you a bit of a teaser. It starts with you. You must believe and function as a leader who believes that each member of your team "wants" to be exceptional! You must identify what in your current culture inhibits that possibility and identify what must be done to promote it. That is the first goal of performance leadership.
Performance Leadership - Think About It!