Build Your Business Around the Exceptions

Some People Are Your Greatest Assets

Most employees are interchangeable parts in your corporate machine. Your employees may be great people. They may be smart, talented, and attractive. They may be volunteer firefighters, soccer coaches, and great parents. They may never be sick, never be late, and never fail to deliver on time. It doesn’t matter. There are thousands, if not millions, of people who can do a good job in almost every position in your organization.

It doesn’t matter how specialized or how technical the position is. Lots of people can do it well enough. An app to track work hours will apprise you of that. There is no shortage of good employees. There is a terrible shortage of exceptional employees.

Why do you need exceptional employees?

You need as many exceptional employees as you can get because good isn’t good enough to get ahead. In a world full of people who can do a good job in the right position, you need some people who are better than good in order to beat the competition and move up to the next level.

Your competitors are putting out a quality product, just like you. Your competitors have pleasant, helpful salespeople, just like you. Your competitors are fully staffed with good people, just like you. You need an advantage. You need something exceptional.

Exceptional is the extra

Exceptional employees aren’t better people or people in specific jobs. They are people with something extra. Many people with something extra have it hidden away, or else they are putting it to use in some other area of their life. Exceptional employees are the intersection of the right person and the right job in such a way that the heretofore untapped extra—extra spirit, potential, effort, or genius—is released in their work.

Exceptional employees are exceptional in lots of different ways: attitude, talent, creativity, initiative, genius, and versatility. There isn’t a single quality that makes someone an exceptional employee, and very often an employee who is exceptional in one way is below average in another—that can be the price of excellence.

The most exceptional employees are investing themselves in the business. It is not that they have no life outside of work and or even that they are working extra hours. It is that they are bringing to work everything they have to offer instead of simply what is necessary to do the job.

How to treat your exceptional employees

The best way to take care of and keep your exceptional employees is to be an exceptional employer. The best employees want to work for a business where they are treated with respect and dignity and where there is a great work environment.

Your exceptional employees should be getting something extra, though. Sometimes that something extra is money. More often it is flexibility and freedom: an extra benefit that is both recognition of their extraordinary value and room to exercise their special qualities.

Good isn’t good enough anymore

We live in a world of abundant, affordable quality. The days of getting ahead by doing a good job, building a good product, or providing a good service are over. Your business needs to be exceptional in some way, or it is doomed to drift forever on the sea of homogeneity.

Today it is almost impossible to maintain an advantage in process, materials, or design for very long. The only long-term advantages are your culture and the exceptional employees who thrive within it. These exceptional employees are your greatest assets.

This article was adapted from Bob Pritchett’s first book, Fire Someone Today, And Other Surprising Tactics for Making Your Business a Success.