How Managers Can Cope When a Superstar Trades Shifts with a Dud
Most managers have go-to employees, the people they turn toward when things really need to get done. These employees are the superstars – the righthand men and women who keep the place afloat. They’re, of course, great to have on staff. But, what happens when they don’t show up? What happens when someone less than stellar arrives in their place?
It’s bound to occur – even superstars need to take off their proverbial capes and switch shifts from time to time. And, while it’s not ideal, it isn’t the end of the world, either. As the boss, there are a few things you can do to help make the transition from dynamo to dud as fluid as possible. These include:
Ask for a heads up
If you have an employee you rely on more than others, speak to them about giving you a heads up whenever they know they will be absent. If you have an attendance policy that encourages a balance between work and play, your staff member should have no problem coming to you to discuss the circumstances openly and honestly. This benefits you by allowing you to prepare for the days and nights when your superstar is showcasing their talents elsewhere.
Convey your needs
You can’t expect your best employee to never take days off, but you can expect them to come through during extraordinarily important nights. If it’s absolutely vital that they work the upcoming holiday party, for example, convey this to them. Explain why you need them and how only their talents will suffice. And don’t be afraid to offer financial incentive, either.
Assign important tasks to someone else
When your superstar employee gives their shift to a dud, there’s no rule that states all the tasks must follow. If there is an important task that must get done (or a VIP client who walks through the door), deviate from your regular schedule and assign elsewhere. Then stick the dud somewhere not as important. The inventory closet? It could use a good cleaning.
Cross-train in advance
Naturally, cross-training employees – all employees – helps avoid a sticky situation whenever one employee calls in sick because they have the flu (or calls in “sick” because they have a concert). Each employee has different strengths and weaknesses, but cross-training provides you a safety net. At the very least, everyone will know how to do everything.
Set clear expectations
Any employee who isn’t doing their job to your expectations should be spoken to. If your dud of a staff member is never corrected, they’ll continue their less-than-stellar ways. You don’t need to fire them, but you should set clear expectations and explain those expectations thoroughly. Then document any failure to meet expectations. That way, you have a paper trail if you’re forced to issue a pink slip.
An employee who is a superstar is a great employee to have. But superstars possess lives outside of the office. When they trade shifts, there’s always the chance they’ll do it with someone whose standards aren’t quite as lofty. These tips won’t guarantee smooth sailing, but they may help avoid disastrous waters.
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