Let’s say you are the general manager of an NBA team and you want to win the championship (assuming of course that you solve your labor dispute and get back to playing ball). There are two ways to approach this goal. Which do you think offers you the best chance of winning it all?
First, you could assemble a team of one great player, some other really, really good players and a few OK players to round them out
Second, you could nab three superstars and fill out the team with a bunch of role players
If those scenarios sound familiar, it’s because they are. Last year’s NBA Championship consisted of the Miami Heat, with three superstars – LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. That mega-team made it to the Championship Finals their first year playing together. They were surprisingly beaten by the Dallas Mavericks, a team that no one considered to be a championship threat, mostly because they were made up of but one legitimate superstar (Dirk Nowitzki) and a team of talented role players.
You will notice that the one common trait that both teams had is at least one rock star player; teams without one don’t even sniff a championship.
The sports analogy applies surprisingly well in a small business context. Having a superstar employee can take your team over the top too – whether it’s an exceptional salesperson, a superstar marketer or what have you.
But just how do you find and hire superstar talent? Here’s how:
Be ready: Exceptional people will only go to a business that is exceptional as well. They will expect a wide berth and a lot of support. Therefore you have to be internally prepared – both logistically as well as psychologically – to accommodate the superstar, for the superstar will likely have some baggage: A big ego, demands, the need to do business his or her way, etc.
Now, maybe the person won’t be prima donna (probably won’t be, in fact) but you do need to be prepared for the fact that there will likely be some new demands made upon your organization. After all, you are recruiting the talent for some reason. They know that.
Recruit: Locating a superstar in your industry is often best left to professionals, that is, a talent recruiter. Executive recruiters are available in every industry and are great because they know both the players and the business. They will have leads, contacts and ideas that you do not. Sure it will cost you, but so will the superstar. You get what you pay for.
Of course you could try finding the person on your own – posting on Monster.com and Craigslist for instance – but it will take a lot more time and the results will probably not be nearly as great. After all, how many superstar talents are out there actively scouring Craigslist advertisements? Right.
Be prepared to pay: Superstars may expect superstar pay and benefits: Full medical and dental, a 401(k), several paid weeks off a year, paid holidays and significant base compensation with a hefty bonus structure built in.
Perks: Your rock star may also expect:
A company car
The ability to telecommute
Hi-tech toys like state-of-the-art laptops, smartphones, software and other tools
The chance for growth within the company
Other issues: Be prepared for the fact that your regular staff may resent the newcomer, especially if the perks he or she receive are fairly transparent. That sort of inequality can’t help but breed problems. By the same token, the newcomer may expect that, for the pay he or she is getting, the place will be exceptional. Is it?
Bringing in a superstar has many benefits, but it is not always an easy fit. As with a sports team, egos often need to be finessed. But if you can mange that and get them to play together, your superstar just may lead you to the Promised Land as well.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.