The Snitch

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Does your office harbour a ninja superstar?

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I would like to start off this post by announcing that I would like to coin the phrase “ninja superstar”. Yes, I came up with it myself and yes, there’s a story behind it.

While on one of my many refreshing breaks today, I came across an article on Inc.com about hidden talents within your organisation. I’ve always been a believer in the notion that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone and I think it can be applied in the office, all day, everyday.

See, many times, we rely on our office superstars for the next big money maker. Need a fresh take on an idea? Why not ask Jake, the guy who’s been giving us great ideas since ’03. Need a second opinion on the people strategy? Why not call in Paul, who has been leading the global strategy team for years?

But do we really need to keep going back to the regular top performers? Yes, they’re called a top performer for a reason, but who’s to say the quiet guy next to Jake or that geeky kid opposite Paul hasn’t got the best idea ever to hit town?

Inc’s article uses the example of Jeremy Lin, overnight basketball sensation. When asked about “Lin-sanity”, LA Lakers hotshot Kobe Bryant only had this to say: “Players playing that well don’t usually come out of nowhere… his skill level was possibly there from the beginning. It probably just wasn’t noticed.”

That said, I am convinced there are several ninja superstars lurking in your office just waiting to be noticed. Seriously, I promise you, they’re there.

As a leader, it is your job to constantly allow staff opportunities for growth. If you keep going back to the Jakes and Pauls of your team, you’re going to lose the golden nuggets hiding inside your office’s very own Jeremy Lin.

Harvey Mackay, who wrote the article on inc, shares four simple tricks to make sure your ninja superstar becomes an overnight sensation:

Pay closer attention to performance reviews

Be on the lookout for special abilities or exceptional initiative. In addition, ask employees to rate their own performance and explain what areas they are especially interested in developing.

Reinstate the good ol’ suggestion box.

The employees who share innovative ideas may also be the folks who have some hidden talents that would help incorporate their suggestions. Reward the best ideas, and recognise them publicly so that others will be encouraged to share their skills.

Ask for volunteers.

When a new project comes along, instead of just making assignments, invite employees to step up and take on the tasks that suit their interests and skills. Perhaps you’ve seen the video of the Southwest Airlines flight attendant who found a way to ensure passengers would really pay attention to the typical pre-flight instructions. He decided to use his rap skills to make the announcement. The passengers will always remember where the exit rows are now, and the airline continues to bolster its reputation for making mundane travel fun.

Don’t overlook less obvious advantages.

A department assistant at an urban university liked to knit on her lunch hour. Soon other employees brought their yarn and needles, and they gathered one day each week over lunch to make caps for newborns at the children’s hospital. They hadn’t known each other well before that, but as they became better acquainted, the interdepartmental cooperation burgeoned. And the university enjoyed some very positive community reaction as well.

If I were you, I’d get right down to uncovering your ninja superstar. Remember, everyone’s got something to put on the table – isn’t that why you hired them in the first place?

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

May 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm

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