The Wise Entrepreneur

The Pros and Cons of Growing Your Own Stars

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I guess you are very conversant with what stars are, aren’t’ you? In the words of Robert H. Schuller, ‘Elect the best, no matter the tag.’ Star employees have unique combinations of knowledge, skills, competencies, experience, intellect, character, emotional intelligence and other attributes that make them unique and sought for. Again quoting Olakunle Soriyan – CEO STN Group in Nigeria, ‘Becoming a star worker, or what I call catalyst player, is a product of a combination of factors beyond intellect – factors such as maturity, emotional balance, courage, patience, staying power or even fortitude or resilience. I call it character…..’ Now, who does not want top-class productivity and results?

Every enterprise or organization desires stars or very high performance employees. Many organizations however prefer to search for stars and engage them. You might be that kind. However, you can also develop your own stars. Developing your stars require quite an investment of time, finances and other resources over time. This strategy has its pros and cons. Don’t you think so? I know you may ask me why waste time doing this when you can easily find ready-made stars in the job market. Anyway, what benefits or advantages does your enterprise gain from developing its own stars? What about the drawbacks related to this approach? Is it worth the pain? Let’s consider the following.

  • More value may be gained from internally grown stars due to prior environmental advantage and depository of enterprise specific knowledge and skills. Don’t you agree with me on this? Instead of bringing in a new person who probably may take ages adjusting to your enterprise systems, culture, environment etc, why not develop an insider?
  • Keeping internally grown stars is a lot easier in most cases, especially if they appreciate the enterprise and the remuneration. Now, when you have had serious setbacks resulting from stars who hop from one job to another in embarrassingly short time periods, then you know what I’m talking about here. Sometimes it’s just not worth it. It can be painful you know.
  • Little reaction from other employees may be encountered. Just imagine bringing in that star from outside and paying a hefty salary plus other benefits, and then every Tom Dick and Harry in the enterprise comes to know this. You surely are going to get a reaction, and possibly a silent war will emerge in your enterprise, with various detrimental effects. Now, while this should not block you from engaging external stars, you need to be wise with it. Don’t you think so? The same can occur with stars that lack the appropriate attitude to humble and integrate.

On the other hand, what things may make you think twice regarding developing your own stars?

  • You require a lot of investment to develop stars internally. You certainly will need to plan and execute expensive and time consuming training and development programs, to achieve this. Do you have what it takes to do this? If not, you may opt to poach. Sometimes also such staff development strategies may not bring out the caliber of people you want.
  • You also require a lot of patience while developing stars internally. If your enterprise is rapidly changing and growing, you will not have the patience to develop your own stars, will you? In some cases you just have to jump into the labor market and quickly get someone. Haven’t you considered or done this before?
  • There are also risks involved in developing your own stars, since you may not be able to stop the star from leaving even after all the investment. Even a well documented contract cannot keep someone who doesn’t want to work for you, can it? Occasionally such departures can be very upsetting for an employer or executive. You may pretend it’s a minor matter and comfort yourself with statements such as ‘Nobody is indispensible’ – but within you the pain and possibly embarrassment and regret are very alive.

Some organizations today prefer to develop their own stars due to reasons stated above. Many however prefer the easier approach of sourcing externally, at whatever cost. The choice is yours – develop internally or source externally. Beyond getting the stars, there are several other considerations you need to have to enable the stars perform. Sometimes organizations mismanage stars and hence a high rate of ‘star turnover’. A closer look at such enterprises reveals reasons why they can’t retain stars. I do hope your enterprise is not one of those anyway! Your enterprise should be star-compatible!

Till then,

The Wise Entrepreneur

Clayton W. L. Mwaka

Clayton W. L. Mwaka

Clayton W. L. Mwaka, a Ugandan chartered accountant and motivational speaker with 24 years of diverse experience, specializes in business administration, international consultancy, and lecturing. He advocates for personal empowerment through balanced living, qualitative leadership, and paradigm shifts, aiming to unlock individual potential globally.

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