Sure, All Employees Are “RockStars”, But What Do They Really Do?

I met with a client the other day who was telling me about one of his favorite employees. Words like high performer, rockstar, favorite and value-added team member were used generously by this man – I could have pulled ten or so sound-bites regarding engagement and performance out of his monologue.

I’m known for being blunt so I don’t think I startled him when I told him I didn’t care to hear all the buzzwords and instead, I would love to have him answer a few questions about this “excellent employee.”

  • john contemplatedWhat the characteristics does he/she possess?
  • What actions does he/she consistently engage in?
  • What behaviors does he/she consistently demonstrate?
  • How does he/she make other people feel?
  • If you were to eavesdrop on his/her work, what would you see and hear?

My client thought for awhile and then started to answer my questions. Within a minute or two, I noticed he was offering up generalities so I stopped him again.

I pushed him to be specific.


I think we do ourselves and our excellent employees a disservice when we use generalities. If they are truly excellent employees, they deserve specificity.

  • Don’t simply say they are competent…list the skills and abilities that make them stand out above their colleagues.
  • Don’t simply say they volunteer and chip in…tell a story of when it was easier or more convenient to do otherwise and yet they helped anyway.Slide1
  • Don’t simply say they are professional…describe how they have positively represented your organization and if they’ve managed to repair someone’s negative perception of your team.
  • Don’t simply say they are honest and ethical…tell how you’ll know they’ll do the right thing regardless of who is looking or who would know otherwise.
  • Don’t simply say they are liked and respected by their colleagues…identify the coworkers who strive to emulate their behavior or who consistently ask them for advice and counsel.
  • Don’t simply say they are kind and courteous to others…tell how they encourage and motivate others.
  • Don’t simply say they are good communicators…explain how they ensure their message is understood and what types of things they do to ensure they can focus and truly listen to others.

You see, to be an excellent employee is not simpleso don’t simply say they are.


Leave a Reply