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Reece: Let's make 2014 the year of the super employee

We have a couple of skylights in our bedroom, and as I woke up Saturday morning, out into the barely lit clear early morning winter sky, through the leaveless trees, I saw a single bright star.

Not another one anywhere. Maybe it was a supernova.

What is a supernova? Well, according to an article in “Universe Today” (yes, there is a magazine for just about everything), “nova” means “new star”, and “super” means “really big,” such as supermarket. So a supernova is a really bright new star. That’s where the word comes from, but today it has a rather more precise meaning, namely a once-off variable star that has a peak brightness similar to, or greater than, that of a typical galaxy.

Now everybody knows there are millions, maybe billions, of shining stars out there. Who knows how many supernovas there are. Really great employees are like supernovas. Let’s call them “Super Employees.”

In an article, Jon Olsen writes about recognizing the potential and creating employees he calls “super employees”:

“Super employees are a combination of an employee wanting to perform and our recognizing this and acting on it. Too often, valued employees are not recognized for their many skills. Sometimes, we just aren’t observant enough to see what we have in front of us. The most important assets we have may be right under our noses.”

Olsen writes how employers can help make sure that any employee who wants to can be a “super employee.” How?

1. Stimulate productivity. “Let’s start with being productive. So many people hate the start of the work week. You know the Monday morning blues. In reality, most of your workers show up because they need a paycheck; not necessarily because they love their job. If work becomes stale or boring, we run the risk of our employees becoming nonproductive.

“What can be done? The first step to making a super employee is to let them know you appreciate their efforts. Let them know what their hard work has accomplished. Give them scenarios of what you see happening if all do their part. Communication plays a huge role in employees being productive.”

2. Establish an identity. “Developing an identity helps employees keep focused. What is your company about? Do you care what others think about you? What do your industry counterparts think about you? If your company has a good reputation, your employees are going to feel good about that. Having an identify starts with you. Do you work hard? How do you respond to crisis? How do you treat customers? Your employees feed off of this. Who wants to be part of a company that doesn’t care how they are perceived? Not many super employees will be found that way.”

3. Goal Development. “Lastly, goals are so important. Giving goals that matter to employees is another building block when developing super employees. Remember, it should be goals that are important to them. It could be giving assignments that, if accomplished, will lead to a raise. Or maybe they would be a great manager in the shop, but there are areas you would like to see improvement.”

The basic fundamentals Olsen recognizes in a potential super employee are that they are driven: they show a desire to work hard; attentive: they listen to direction; responsible: they have a good attendance record; positive: they aren’t openly critical of the company; flexible: they find a way to do what they are asked to do.

So as we approach the new year, let’s pledge to do what we can to turn our people into those bright, shining stars. Let’s make 2014 the year of the “super employee.”


Join us Tuesday night as Dalman’s Evergreens Landscaping, 7417 W. Hillside Road, Crystal Lake, hosts an afterhours mixer from 5 to 7 p.m. Chamber members are encouraged to attend for great relationship building opportunities.


Beginning Jan. 9, the Crystal Lake Chamber’s Leaders in Action program, now in its 38th consecutive year, will provide world-class training by eight presenters each of which are dynamic experts in their respective fields. Worth more than $5,000, the Chamber is proud to be able to present Leaders for $195 for Chamber members (scholarships available from the Chamber Foundation) and $245 for nonmembers. Your investment includes breakfast each week and all materials. Class size is limited to 50 people, so get signed up today at

• Gary Reece is president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. Email him at

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