A successful organization has a diverse workforce comprising top performers and regular performers. A study by Radical Candor found that your employees operate in two modes:

  • Superstar mode – Employees operating in this mode are the ones we traditionally call ambitious. They always aim to climb the corporate ladder and stop at nothing to keep growing. Their overall focus is growth.
  • Rock Star mode employees are keen on staying where they are. Typically, they prioritize other things above work, such as an ailing partner, a new child, and an upcoming wedding, among others. Rock stars are all about stability since they are good at what they do.

The Rock Star mode comprises employees who are great at their job but are not necessarily looking for the next big job. They are your source of stability. The Superstar mode characterizes employees who grow fast and want the next big job. They are your source of growth.

To achieve sustainable success, you must include both categories of employees in your resource plan.

The great resignation is on a rise

The Great Resignation references a period when most people started quitting jobs at a record high during the second half of 2021. More employees plan to quit in the years to follow. A Resume Builder study on 1,250 American workers noted that 23% of employees had plans of seeking new jobs in 2022, while 9% had already started new jobs. An almost similar study in Europe had parallel findings, indicating that young consumers resigned from their jobs in record numbers. Furthermore, Microsoft conducted a study that reported 41% of the global workforce intended to quit their jobs in the next year.

The trend should be a call for concern to employers and organizations experiencing higher attrition rates and hence need to put in place employee retention plans and strategies.

Indeed, there is a need to adopt programs that develop employees and make them feel included in the overall company operations. As a leader, if you were to focus only on the top performers, you would leave out regular performers hence putting the stability of your organization at risk.

Every employee wants to grow

No matter what trait your employee may have, all of them are united by the fact that each one of them wants to grow somehow.

The two main reasons for employees seeking growth are:

  • Status: Get the next big role
  • Monetary: Earn more money

Therefore, managers must act more like coaches to positively contribute to their employees’ growth and career development. One needs to engage both the rock star and superstar employees to ensure all your staff is progressing according to their career vision and ambition. An important skill to demonstrate in these situations is listening capabilities. In the end, your objective as a leader is to understand their career goals and empower them to reach them.

We cannot assume everybody should be like us

Superstar mode employees tend to assume that everybody has a strong career orientation. These employees are known for actively coming up with new ideas and going out of their way to solve problems. It is easy to focus on them because they are typically in the spotlight and are getting things done.

However, side-lining rock star mode employees in favor of superstar mode risks developing segregation. If no intervention is made, it would only be a matter of time before regular performing staff, the rock stars, start resigning.

All employees need flexibility

There is a common belief that people in rock star mode want more flexibility than those in superstar mode. The reality is that all your employees want flexibility and should be given a reasonable work-life balance.

It is worth noting that people are often in different modes at different stages of their careers. Since people change, great managers must also adapt and put them in the right roles at the right time. As a leader, it is key to understand your team’s rock star/superstar ratio. That helps you determine whether you have the correct mix of employees. That is also impacted by the industry in which you operate.


It is important to ensure that your team is well-streamlined to achieve success. Most business leaders often face the challenge of incorporating diverse team members into their operations. As this article revealed, you cannot afford to rely too much on top performers and ignore their regular counterparts. A well-balanced team considers the niche in which the business performs to determine the percentage of superstar and rock star mode employees it needs.

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