"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." Steve Jobs
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 a fascinating list and included, among other things; They think beyond the job description, they are not afraid to ask questions, like to prove others wrong, and they are always exploring.
Can Exceptional Be Created?
It got me thinking, as he accurately pointed out those things that make for an exceptional employee and how to identify them. What I wondered is, 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, human-centered leadership is predicated upon that belief. In combining a potent mix of operational excellence, continuous improvement, and behavioral science, the goal is to create employees who will practice what we call "discretionary behaviors." These are the types of behaviors that have been highlighted on so many WestJet commercials where staff go out of their way to provide industry leading client experiences. (Looking forward to seeing what they do this Christmas, for example!)
After all, if one were to define the term "discretionary behavior," 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 whole team of this type of employee 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 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 figure out what must be done to promote it. That is the first goal of human-centered performance leadership. Performance Leadership - Think About It!