Even the most casual football observer knows Tom Brady's got it all going on. A gorgeous supermodel wife, three beautiful children, more Super Bowl rings than any other quarterback in NFL history, he is the world's 15th highest paid athlete. But as an employee, he's not the easiest person to manage. That's according to Houston Texans coach and former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who said in a radio interview that coaching Brady is "one of the most difficult jobs you can have as a coach." Why? Essentially, he's so good at what he does--and obsessed with football--that it puts tremendous pressure on his coaches who understand Brady's knowledge of the playbook and how good he is at reading defenses.
For business leaders, it raises a good question--how exactly does one properly manage someone who's a superstar at what they do? Jessica Schaeffer, chief of staff at LaSalle Network, a national staffing, recruiting and culture firm, has some ideas. Here are her words on how to keep a highly talented employee engaged, motivated and wanting to stay on your team.
1. Don't take them for granted.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil...and it's usually not your top performers. Make sure you are spending time with them and not just with the C players who likely won't turn into your top producers. Make sure they know how valuable they are and what they bring to the organization.
2. Build a relationship with them beyond the four walls of the office.
Take them to drinks, a ball game, workout class, whatever. Take the time to get to know them and what's important to them. They will be more likely to stay in the long term.
3. Don't forget that recognition is important.
Learn what motivates them. Whether it's money, public recognition, or more autonomy, make sure you are giving them what they need.
4. Give them new challenges.
One of my mentors told me that if you ever have something important you need to delegate, look for the person who has the most on their plate, and give it to them. The benefits are twofold: they will do excellent work, and the new projects and assignments will stretch them and keep them engaged. Most top producers don't want to work for a company or department where everything is status quo, and no one ever makes changes. Change is motivating. Change is challenging. Change is exciting.
5. Empower them.
Make it easy for them to execute and get things done. Let them know the decisions they need your input on and what they can run with. If the training wheels are off, let them do their job. They are a top performer, which means they are likely good at over-communicating and getting what they need from you. Trust them.
6. Don't take for granted what they don't know.
Just because they may be crushing their goals doesn't mean they don't need coaching and development in some areas. They still want to learn. They still want to be pushed and challenged. Give them praise and constructive criticism.