Diversity week kicked off with the WICT and NAMIC conferences featuring sessions and panels educating and celebrating leadership. One of the common threads of both conferences is the heralding of talent across the industry and the keen awareness that we have of celebrities in our midst. 
The celebrities are the ones who shine brightly on your team, go the extra mile, conceive and create new ideas, innovate new products and services and generate value inside and outside the company. They are fiercely dedicated to grooming and growing others and devise initiatives that impact business goals and objectives. 
These folks are beyond valuable. They are vital to keep. As new job opportunities pop up, employers risk losing valued talent and face real time productivity and morale issues among the people that stay. Therefore, it’s imperative for organizations to roll out the red carpet, strike up the band, alert the paparazzi and provide the “star treatment” to keep and cultivate key talent. 
Here are 6 ways to treat your star performers like celebrities:

1. Internal Scouting
At some point an actor’s talent shines through and they are “discovered.” Agents go out and look for great talent. Comedy agents will go to comedy clubs or surf YouTube. Are you taking the time to make that one “great discovery?”
Make time to examine the talent on your team: Who is emerging? Who is lagging behind? Who needs a boost? 
Having a talent mindset is critical to retaining your best and brightest. 
2. Be the Director
One of my favorite movies last year was the “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Rooney Mara, the actress who played the female lead in the film, rarely looks directly at anyone. This was a deliberate choice by director David Fincher. He believed that a lack of eye contact was pivotal to the female character. He worked with Rooney, followed through on his vision and nurtured a performance that earned her anAcademy Award nomination. You can mentor your star and foster a winning performance every time.
·      Have your stars “self select” a project that inspires them. 
·      Consistently ensure the vision of the company is running alongside the stars’ passion for the project. 
·      Let your stars know that their work is vital.
·      Design innovative ways for them to build their acumen within the project. 
·      Review the learning after your star goes out and performs. Reinforcement of key principles will continue to punctuate the learning.
3. Paparazzi
The paparazzi are photographers who work for or sell to tabloid newspapers and snap pictures of celebrities doing just about anything.
Stars endure this annoying necessity because it keeps their name “out there.” You can celebrate your stars with photos and videos. We have entered the age of Facebook and YouTube. People want to see more.
Become paparazzi. Take “morale” photos of your stars and post them so they can gain fame. Get a group photo of your team to point out that every person is valuable.
Snap a photo when your stars visit with clients. If your star helps to solve an issue with that client, you already have a picture that you can run when celebrating their success.

4. Screening at Sundance
It’s quite common for a film, especially an independent production, to be presented at film festivals like Sundance, where they can be noticed and nurtured.
Ask yourself how many people on your team have the “goods” to grow. Who would you want to “start local to go global?” In other words, think about who would you begin to groom in small and meaningful ways to grow their star power. Consider how would you cultivate that talent, just as in a great independent film.
5. Red Carpet Treatment: The Academy Awards
I love the Academy Awards. In Los Angeles life stops on the day of the Awards show. Fans are glued to their television sets waiting to see who wore, who said what, and who won what.
Winning an Academy Award is a game changer. Your performance has been recognized and acknowledged by your peers.
Recognition of employees—of their contributions and achievements—often is the deciding factor in an employee’s decision to stay or leave a job. Appreciation is a priceless commodity in the workplace. It is ranked right up there with financial compensation.  
Post positive comments from your clients on an internal blog site or have a “wall of fame” where client praise is posted. Look for ways to reward high performers who may not have the most glamorous jobs. How about the custodial staff?
Reward with what’s of value to them. Give a $50 gift card to Amazon for the avid reader, or concert tickets for the music buff.
6. “Roasts” for the Famous
How do you know you made it? When a huge gaggle of celebrities gather to salute you with humor. Your stars will be more inclined to success when you inject fun into work. Why does work have to be so serious? Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines, said, “There’s no reason that work has to be suffused with seriousness. Professionalism can be worn lightly. Fun is a stimulant to people. They enjoy their work more and work more productively.”
·      First YOU have to lighten up – Plan for fun and respond spontaneously to fun moments.
·      FMT (=Fun Management Team) – Instead of another meeting, organize a group of folks who ensure that fun is consistently injected into work. Have the committee rotate members to get new and innovative ideas.
·      Have activities during lunch such as biking, walking, rollerblading. People can socialize AND have fun.
·      Have meetings in a new environment. Why be indoors, unless you have to because of weather? And if you do have have to, maybe a rock-climbing wall would be more helpful than being in a room with flip charts—again.
Which of these strategies inspired you to give your stars the “Red Carpet Treatment?” Which strategies will you begin to put into practice today? Be specific. Because the more concrete you get, the better your chance of achieving what you set out to do.
(Esther Weinberg is a leadership expert and a cable veteran with a 20-year track record in the industry. She currently creates breakthrough strategies for such companies as ESPN, Microsoft, Scripps Networks, NBCUniversal Cable, Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc., Motorola, Headline News Network and MTV Networks, among others. She is the contributing author to the leadership book “Breaking Through” by acclaimed author Barbara Stanny. Esther is a Board Member of NAMIC-Southern California, a mentor for WICT Southern California and a member of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association. Sign up for her FREE leadership newsletter with valuable information at www.mindlightgroup.com.)

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