6 Ways to Maximize the Potential of Your Superstars

CB recently wrote to me about one of his superstars – a promising young (23-year-old) copywriter who has already contributed many great ideas to the business. In fact, he’s so good, that CB is worried about losing him.

“I’m giving this young man the training courses he thinks will help him and the company, giving him autonomy in content, web design, and other projects, and helping him find ways to generate more income,” CB said. “But how do I continue to support him?”

Here’s what I told him…
That’s a very good question.

It’s so important that I’ve written about it many times over the years. And I’m thinking about it right now because I’m involved in an imbroglio over one of Agora’s top marketers leaving one franchise to join another. He’s leaving because the publishers did not listen to the following advice:

Extreme Value…

Recognize the value of your superstars. You can populate your business with good and great employees if you put the work into it and create the right environment. But superstars – they are rare. A superstar is worth 5-10 great employees.

Risky Business…

Recognize the fact that you cannot hide them from the competition. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen very smart CEOs try to do this. It works for a while. Then one day a competitor discovers them and makes them an offer that is way above what they are making. When that happens, you are screwed. You can offer to meet or even beat the new offer, and you might even retain that superstar. But he/she will never trust you and always resent you.

The Hook…

Understand what motivates them. Superstars are not motivated primarily by money. Nor is praise a sufficient reward. What superstars want and need most of all is the opportunity – the freedom and the support – to accomplish great things. That is what makes an otherwise great employee a superstar.

The Game Plan…

Compensate them strategically. Money is not the primary motivation, but money matters. Superstars should be paid a base plus incentive compensation. The base should be just above (maybe 5%) what someone else would offer them to do the same job. (And by that, I mean someone else that recognized their value.) The incentive compensation should be structured so that they could make a shitload of money – even more than you. But it should never be so much that they are getting more than they clearly deserve.

The Trap…

Don’t overcompensate. This last point is complicated. It’s easy to overcompensate people with incentive plans. And when you do, you can spoil them to the point where you will have to let them go. I don’t have time now to get into all of that. But in this case, since the young man is a copywriter, the challenge is easier to meet because there are existing formulas that work. You are probably familiar with them. If not, I can send you some examples.

One Final Thing

Despite what I’ve said, when your business is relatively small (as yours is), you may not be able to compete with the sort of compensation he could get at a company like Agora. Even if you gave him the same base (say, $80,000), it would be nearly impossible for him to make the same incentive compensation with you because your file size and revenues are too small.

Instead, you have to make him feel like he is working for a good business that is doing good. From what I’ve seen, you are already doing this. In fact, I’m sure you are already doing much if not all of what I’ve suggested above. But I thought I’d write it down this way so I could publish it in my blog and kill two birds with one stone!

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Imbroglio (noun) – An imbroglio (im-BROHL-yoh) is an intricate and perplexing state of affairs; a complicated or difficult situation. As I used it today: “[Right now] I’m involved in an imbroglio over one of Agora’s top marketers leaving one franchise to join another.”

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“5 Truths to Accept Before Your Mind Can Improve”

I’m pretty sure this guy is a longtime Michael Masterson reader. In any case, he succinctly restates five “truths” that must be accepted in order to have a long and successful career. LINK

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