What is Your Employee’s North Star
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What is Your Employee’s North Star

When deadlines get tight, the work piles up, and your staff is challenged and stressed, do you know what keeps them in their seats?

Everyone has a North Star – a concept, thought, “happy place” they think about at midnight when they’re cramming to finish a project or catching up on email. It’s their mantra when the going gets tough. But do you, as their Manager, know what that is? If you don’t, you should. There are lots of hiring strategies that help build a stable team and this is one of them. Of course, no team will be without turnover. Life has many twists and turns and people leave for all sorts of reasons. As a Manager, you must take time to understand what motivates each individual on your team.

Motivation varies so much across individuals – just as individual personalities vary from person to person. A more reserved individual might enjoy working more independently on solitary projects. They will also most likely want more praise and feedback than those that are more team oriented. So, when they’re slammed, are you checking in with them and continually giving them encouragement and praise? Ok, everyone needs encouragement and praise, but this can be someone’s North Star when work gets demanding. They will picture their bosses’ kind words of support and praise to get them over the work hump.

Does someone need to feel important – then the job needs to affirm them. Have them present in meetings or recommend them to head a corporate task force or activity. What if it’s a matter of a short commute – that requires little affirmation from a manager. If it’s a professional tract that leads to promotion, make sure they know you are on the same page and how their hard work will manifest into a higher- level position.

Some companies have North Stars built into their business model. Most Non-Profits hire individuals that are committed to their cause. They understand the greater good woven into their work and employees gravitate around that cause. This can also be the case for a company with a Mission Statement culture, although, this is harder to pull off unless profits are distributed accordingly. A company with an ESOP is also a great example of a built in North Star. If each employee feels like an owner, behavior is significantly changed in terms of commitment.  Employees that slave away and see only a few at the top walking away with the monetoary spoils find it much more difficult to give it their all.

Now, the other standard North Stars: family, flexibility, balanced life, loving their boss and team. Those can be self-maintaining as long as the underlying  corporate structure feeding them remains in place.

Lastly, comes the compensation North Stars. Deferred Comp plans are a great way to give someone a North Star when things are tough. Most plans vest within a five-year period, but the amount vested must be enough to hold them in place during tough times, otherwise, it may not be enough. The absolute worst compensation North Star is money. Yep, the age-old contract consideration between employer and employee doesn’t shine bright enough during rough seas. If your company thinks a paycheck will keep people happily in their seats, think again. Study after study indicates that compensation is just not enough.

North Stars can be as varied as the stars themselves. Make sure you know what guides your employees in order to create and support a happily engaged team and a strong company.

“Experience breeds wisdom, and wisdom breeds vision – Dalai Lama XIV”


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