Q: I have a very talented staff member. She has aroused envy. How do I promote her and not upset others?
A: Talent is essential to all organisations. We must be constantly searching for it. Once spotted, any sensible manager will want to hang on to the person concerned. Talented people usually know it, and that means they have a market value. If you don't encourage talent, you will lose it.
A core managerial task is to promote, encourage and develop talent. Indeed, in the private sector the development of the 'core group' of staff is a top priority. One large multinational company I know divides all its staff into three categories. Category A: those staff they can't afford to lose and therefore shower with rewards; Category B: essential staff who should be supported and developed but don't require extra reward; and Category C: those staff on the way out or that can be dispensed with in a recession.
This is too hard a philosophy for our sector. It is not one I would recommend - development of staff concentrates on the individual. All organisations ought to have a professional approach to staff development. This involves regular appraisal, establishing goals, objectives and targets, and then measuring performance against them.
On this basis, you can agree with your talented employee her individual goals, then have a discussion about how achievement will be recognised. Some organisations do this by a performance bonus or accelerated progression within a band. However, performance-related pay does raise issues and some feel it runs counter to their ethos.
Don't forget there are non-monetary ways of rewarding good performance, for example, personal development opportunities. Have you considered a discussion about development plans, a tempting leadership or management course, mentoring and other opportunities? If she is talented and cannot make progress within the organisation, she will want to move elsewhere. If you don't see internal promotion, try to agree for her to stay with you for a further two or three years. Ask her what she requires in order to do so.
Whatever you do, don't be put off rewarding good people because you might upset poor performers. Don't think that avoiding favouritism means treating everyone at the level of the lowest common denominator - that way lies mediocrity. If you have rising stars, polish them so they shine. They will add lustre to you and your organisation.
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