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Breakthrough Employees or How Does Our Company Get To Where We Want To Go?

Mar 22, 2008
There are employees and then there are breakthrough employees. Once in a blue moon the average company hires someone that can make a dramatic difference. This is usually done by chance in the routine hiring process...someone retires, quits or is fired and someone else is hired to take their place.

The sheer number of hires means that on occasion someone with superior abilities will get hired. These breakthrough employees have the skills to help a company make a 'quantum' leap upward perhaps reaching to the next level of the company's business plan and strategy.

As a rule this type of challenge excites the breakthrough employee; the dull and routine has no appeal. The breakthrough employee constantly speaks of improvement, opportunity and what is possible. This means they are always looking to improve their skills sets and gain new knowledge.

They will 'jump ship' quickly if the company does not help them meet their own personal goals or does not allow them to develop professionally. They can also just walk in your door wanting to go to work.

Breakthrough employees will tend to go toward opportunities and a good opportunity goes a long way toward keeping them; mere compliance to standards for them is a bad joke that does not apply.

Sometimes the company will acknowledge the presence of this breakthrough employee but very often it does not. When they don't feel their skills and knowledge are appreciated this hard charging employee tends to look for work elsewhere.

Jealous co-workers and jealous micromanagers will also drive off a breakthrough employee by considering them a threat to the status quo and their own narrow self-interests. What is good for the company is not always considered to be in the best interest of all its employees.

Making the transition from compliant to highly engaged employees is one of the hardest steps to take in business development. This is compounded by the fact that the breakthrough employee is not easy to manage.

One of the reasons for this difficulty is the breakthrough employee has little sympathy with those that just do enough to get a paycheck. A simple paycheck does not create a sense of accomplishment nor does it ease the tension of their 'fire in the belly'.

They feel that those that don't know don't care.

Because of their skills, curiosity and work ethic breakthrough employees can quickly raise company standards. They can add freshness and zip into a dulled, compliant staff. This is another reason co-workers may resent their presence and will often try to 'sabotage' their efforts.

On the up side, because of their interest and curiosity the breakthrough employee brings experience and new ideas and is not afraid to share them. Their feeling is "if we can do it a better way, why not?" They are open to innovation and see change as a way to grow.

The breakthrough employee knows their true value to a company and knows they should be well treated and well compensated. On the down side they dislike anything, including micromanagers and fellow employees that get in their way. If enough obstacles are present they will perceive a lack of opportunity and leave.

Breakthrough employees are one of the quickest ways to get rapid improvement and growth in a company. Awareness of the breakthrough employee is the first step; the second step is keeping them so they can bring their productivity to your workplace.

Unfortunately many companies discover breakthrough employees only to let them slip through the cracks to competitors.

Although uncommon, the breakthrough employee is not extinct or even rare. But like the value of an uncut diamond, someone has to see the potential, make it happen and then take care of it. Perhaps an easier way to view the breakthrough employee is one that lays golden eggs.

All they want is some tender loving care and for everyone to step back and get out of their way.

If you are an owner or a manager, what's not to like about that?
About the Author
Jack Deal is the owner of JD Deal Business Consulting, Santa Cruz, CA. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com/blog/human_resources and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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