Which of your employees deserves an Oscar?

On Sunday, February 26, America’s hottest celebrities will walk the red carpet in celebration of fashion, film and speeches during the 84th Annual Academy Awards. A highly anticipated event, the Oscars are a moment of extreme pride and self-fulfillment for stars like George Clooney or Meryl Streep — a culmination of their year’s work in front of the big screen. For the millions of television viewers who tune into the awards, the Oscars offer a brief escape from reality — the chance to imagine a life of immense fame, fortune and being singled out (in front of the world) for being great at one’s job.

But just because the average person doesn’t walk the red carpet doesn’t mean they can’t achieve a similar sense of pride and fulfillment in the workplace. In fact, given today’s high turnover rates, the Oscars are an ideal time for business leaders to identify “superstar” employees and boost employee satisfaction. According to a Right Management survey published in January, 84 percent of the employees polled said they plan to look for a new position in 2012. With so much dissatisfaction in the workplace, it’s vital that companies seek out their most talented individuals in order to inspire them and reward their contributions to the company.

To help CEOs and other senior executives identify employees worthy of an accolade, below is a list of characteristics that signal a “superstar.”

  1. She/he is a self-starter – Regularly demonstrating initiative, self-starters continually take on new challenges and responsibilities — pushing themselves and those around them to step outside of their written job descriptions and think outside the box. In addition, they don’t shy away from making the tough call in order to achieve what is right for the customer and their company.
  2. She/he demonstrates a high propensity for learning – High potential employees are always improving and enhancing their craft. Not only do they learn from their mistakes, they seek feedback from others and continually embrace new ideas and creative ways of thinking.
  3. She/he sets a strategic mindset – Star performers rarely focus the majority of their attention on short-term strategies. Instead, they keep an eye out for trends or voids in the marketplace and turn them into opportunities for their company’s long-term success.
  4. She/he maintains a clear line of sight – Superstar employees have no trouble rising above an avalanche of activities, meetings and work emergencies to keep a clear focus and discipline on what really matters.
  5. She/he is well-liked and genuine – High potential employees are energetic, genuine and well-liked individuals. They know how to foster teamwork, inspire those around them and ensure that other employees know that their contributions matter to the company.
  6. She/he is an influential communicator – Perhaps the most important characteristic of a leader is their ability to speak in a way that inspires and captures the energy and imagination of others. A star performer helps others see the positives that can be achieved in the workplace and directs employees toward a personal and professional path of success.

Reward and Retain

Given that so many people watch the Academy Awards — USA Today reported an estimated 37.6 million viewers for last year’s ceremony — the Oscars represent an opportunity for business leaders to ensure that their star-performers are excited about and satisfied with their careers. As the economy continues to recover and companies start hiring again, it’s crucial for businesses to prioritize initiatives that attract, engage and retain high potential employees. One way to do this is to give top performers their “Oscars moment,” whether by hosting a “red-carpet” event within the workplace or simply treating talented individuals to a company dinner. The idea is to actively recognize employee contributions and instill a workplace culture that maximizes employee engagement and productivity.

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