In part two of HRM’s series on cultivating Impact Players, we share an infographic to help you hire and maintain highly valuable employees.
Last week HRM shared part one of our series on Impact Players – which is leadership expert and author Liz Wiseman’s way of describing extremely valuable employees – which looked into what they are and why you should want them in your ranks.
This week, we’re sharing some of Wiseman’s tips to keep in mind as you go searching for these gems in your hiring and succession planning processes, as well as an infographic that synthesises her work, and some tips for becoming an indispensable contributor yourself.
Qualities to look out for in the hiring process
Whether you’re looking within your existing talent pool or externally, there are a few qualities to keep an eye out for in a job interview, says Wiseman.
“One of the most important qualities is an internal locus of control – a proactive mindset. Instead of looking at a problem and seeing themselves as a victim or saying, ‘I can’t solve this problem because nobody gave me the authority to do it,’ you want someone who defaults to, ‘I’m in charge unless someone tells me I’m not.’”
The second most important quality, she says, is having an “opportunity orientation” rather than a “fear orientation”.
“When you see something ambiguous, do you move towards it because there might be an opportunity to uncover, or do you tend to shy away from it because it’s scary?
“It’s like ocean swimmers and surfers. While most of us would see a huge wave, turn our backs on it and swim into shore to try and outrun it, the experienced ocean swimmer or surfer dives into and through it. Right now, we need organisations where people move toward uncertainty rather than away from it.”
A visual snapshot
Here is a high-level visualisation of Wiseman’s research into Impact Players.
Want to hear more from Liz Wiseman on how to cultivate highly valuable employees and leaders in your business? Sign up for her one-day masterclass in Sydney on 15 August, which is part of AHRI’s Convention in August.
Retaining an Impact Player
While hiring Impact Players can be a challenge, it’s not the hardest part – getting them to stay with you is.
Amid the swathe of people leaving jobs right now, it’s wise to do two things: create environments that allow people to thrive and do what you can to broadly distribute Impact Players’ brilliance.
Think of them as the starter in a loaf of sourdough, says Wiseman.
“You can make more of it, but you have to have that starter talent. You’re essentially trying to spread good behaviour.”
From a cultural perspective, it’s critical to quash any sense of competition that could arise between typical or under contributors and Impact Players. They should be someone their colleagues aspire to be like, not feel threatened by.
That means rather than holding Sam up as the cream of the crop and inadvertently saying to your people, “Why can’t you be more like Sam?”, you should facilitate an environment that allows Sam to take on formal or informal coaching opportunities where he can showcase his skills.
“It’s about exposing their logic and getting people to see them as role models by putting them in proximity with others. That way they’re encouraging people to ask questions like, ‘What are the business’s pain points?’ or ‘What’s our boss’s boss trying to do?’”
“It’s like ocean swimmers and surfers. While most of us would see a huge wave, turn our backs on it and swim into shore to try and outrun it, the experienced ocean swimmer or surfer dives into and through it.” – Liz Wiseman
Another way to avoid jealousy or competition cropping up in a team is to identify each person’s natural genius.
This means finding the thing that every person does freely, naturally and better than anyone else. For example, they might be a master communicator, an excellent synthesiser of information or wonderful at smoothing over conflict. Then make that known among a team.
Want to have more impact yourself?
It’s not just on HR to coach others to become Impact Players. Many would want to become one themselves.
Scattered throughout her book, aptly titled ‘Impact Players’, Wiseman shares a range of helpful tips for those looking to have more impact themselves.
Here’s a taste of a few:
- Build credibility with stakeholders by being curious and asking good questions, admitting to your mistakes and being willing to take smart risks.
- Before taking on a new task, draft a statement of work (don’t wait for direction from your boss). This could include the success metrics, what you’re looking to achieve, as well as the boundaries to keep in mind. Then invite input from your boss.
- Look for a double W.I.N (What’s Important Now). That means a task that’s important to your boss as well as the organisation (i.e. a cost reduction strategy or removing kinks in a project roll out).
- Just say ‘yes’. If you’re asked to work on a project you know zilch about, don’t let your fear prevent you from giving it a go. Say ‘yes’, be upfront about what you don’t know and then learn as you go, says Wiseman.
What are some ways that you demonstrate impact in your organisation? Let us know in the comment section below.
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in HRM June 2022 edition.