How to learn from the star performers (no matter how big your frontline is!)

Posted on: March 7, 2024By: Max Lerner

We’ve already talked about how you can identify star performers without visiting every location, even when your workforce numbers in the thousands. But what should you do once you single out these magical employees, locations or regions? 

Frontline Executives Identifying A Star Performer

It’s time to tap into their knowledge and best practices so that you can share these across the business. But how do you do this? Here is our 4-step plan for capturing great ideas and best practices from your star performers—no matter how large your organization is. 

1. Ask them  

The first step in learning from your star performers is simply asking them—and, of course, establishing a process for gathering this information. 

Make it clear that your business is seeking input from these frontline workers. Letting them know that you want and value their opinions will start this process out on the right foot and ensure that you’ve put idea creation on your employees’ radar. Pro tip: rather than throwing out a blanket statement of “we want ideas”, be sure to define the areas in which you need support. This will help direct their innovation and ensure you get the absolute most from them. 

2. Launch an ideas forum (specifically for star performers!)

We’ve talked before about the value of employee forums when it comes to capturing the great ideas your star performers have to share. Why? Employees need a space they can go to where they know their ideas and knowledge will be seen, considered and actioned. Nothing is more demotivating to high performing individuals than being asked for ideas only to have them fall into a black hole (more on that later). 

But here, I’m going to suggest creating a dedicated space on your enablement solution, communications platform, Intranet or other channel, to share exclusively with the workers, locations or regions you’ve identified as top performers. Setting up an ideas forum where top performers have space to let their knowledge fly and share it with other top performers only spurs more ideation. The pinnacle of sourcing best practices from your high performing workers is having them drive other top performers to improve and better themselves. Top performers helping other top performers can exponentially grow their knowledge and abilities.

3. Offer rewards and recognition for innovation

Offering employee rewards and recognition to star performers for their hard work can only help them improve themselves and the company at large. It’s also one of the best ways to get employees to share their ideas. 

“(High performers) need to feel the love,” explains leadership expert Sara Canaday in a article for LinkedIn. “Giving them a tangible sign of appreciation will make them feel valued and reinforce the message that they play a critical role for the team and the organization overall.”

Publicly recognizing team members for all their peers to see also helps to promote the desired behavior or idea—you can accomplish this outcome in your company newsletter, social platform, enablement solution or in employee meetings. Through all of this, the goal is to not take your high-performing employees for granted. They work hard and accomplish a lot for the organization; you should acknowledge their successes wherever possible, and make sure their scalable successes and ideas don’t go uncelebrated.

4. Action the ideas

There are a few ways to action great ideas and employee feedback. But because a lot of the insights you’ll collect from your star performers are best practices, that’s what we’ll talk about here. 

The first step in actioning best practices from your star performers is to share them as far and wide as you can. If you take one thing away from this article, it should be this tip: it will be more impactful when these best practices come from “one of them” rather than distilled from Head Office. This is something that many companies struggle with. They’re always looking to optimize top-down or bottom-up communication, but fail to see the gold mine that is inter-colleague sharing. You can tell your employees 100 times to perform a task a certain way, but when they hear a tip or trick from a colleague, they’re more likely to take it in and remember it. The impact can be meteoric. 

Work with your star performers to share their ideas using any (or all!) tools you use to connect with your frontline. Shout it from the rooftops of HQ. Just be sure to spotlight the most helpful and actionable insights for the frontline to see. Recognizing employees and attributing these ideas, tips and tricks to them, will help validate not only the employee themselves, but the idea as well. 

Once you’ve shared your top performers’ ideas, be sure to follow up and check for compliance. Whether you have your managers monitoring in-store, knowledge testing running in your learning solution or you simply poll the frontline, it’s always helpful to check in and see the effect. This can also help you course correct as you go. Re-testing on knowledge and behavior not only allows us to identify top performers but those on the lower end of the spectrum as well—those that could use some additional support and mentorship. 

The ultimate goal with sharing best practices from your star performers is to create a culture of continuous learning, improvement and collaboration. What you really want is to establish trust with your employees and show them that their actions and ideas have real influence and meaning. Sharing these insights has countless benefits—for the high performer and for the frontline in general. The knowledge will help all employees grow into leaders by providing insights and access to these more experienced individuals, while also giving high-performing employees recognition and responsibility. 

Max Lerner

Max Lerner is an instructional designer and avid frontline enablement enthusiast, with years of experience helping organizations support their teams to drive business outcomes.

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