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Management Lessons from “American Idol”

american-idolExperiencing a little withdrawal now that season eight of “American Idol” has ended? Not that tweeting @RyanSeacrest every half hour isn’t a constructive use of your time…but might I suggest channeling some of that lingering “Idol” fan energy into something a wee bit more productive?

Say, uncovering the hidden employee management lessons Paula, Simon, Randy and Kara unknowingly provided us all season? Yes? Okay, then.

So far, I’ve come up with these four, but here’s my challenge to you: Come up with your own, and leave them in the comments section below.

1. Give Credit Where It’s Due- Sure, Simon Cowell’s snarky comments make for great sound bites, but it’s the excess praise that keeps viewers coming back for more each week (as this AdAge article argues).

Likewise, in the business world employees need a little recognition to keep them motivated.  That doesn’t mean they need to hear “you awaken the spirit in all of us” every time they so much as send you an e-mail, but finding ways to recognize your employees for their hard work can be one of the most effective ways to increase job satisfaction for the buck.

2. Discover Hidden Talents – As recently illustrated in the “Idol” finale when Kris Allen beat judge favorite Adam Lambert in an upset, sometimes your star performers are the people you least expect them to be. Kris surprised even himself with his sudden turn as stiff competition for – and then victor over – Lambert.

Who’s the Kris Allen in your organization? Someone with a deeper talent that’s just waiting to be unleashed? The key to finding employees’ hidden talents, says Kevin Wheeler of ERE.net is to give them the confidence or encouragement they need to try something new. This could mean getting recommendations from other supervisors, providing internal development opportunities, and promoting from within the organization.

3. Reap the Benefits of a Mentor Program – The celebrity mentor element of “Idol” is the ultimate showcase of a win/win/win situation: For the contestants, it’s their chance to learn from an industry professional (and often meet a childhood hero). For the mentors, it’s free publicity. And for the Fox Network…do I really have to point out the obvious?

In the business world, it isn’t much different.  As this BNET article explains, workplace mentoring programs have benefits on all sides: while the protégés have the most to gain, mentors also “typically strengthen their interpersonal skills, find new insights into their own work, and have the satisfaction of seeing others grow.”  Meanwhile, the organization sees reduced turnover, as well as a better quality and faster rate of production.

4. Set the Stage for Future Success - Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry, Diana DeGarmo, Jennifer Hudson, Katherine McPhee and Kelly Pickler may not have been crowned “American Idol,” but these former contestants were all able to leverage their experience on the show to get record deals, film, TV and Broadways roles, and even (in the case of Hudson) an Oscar.

Sure, it helps to have “American Idol” on your resume, but these performers all had the chance to build their skills and network with industry professionals during their time on the show – not to mention the endorsements of judges who truly wanted to see them advance their careers - if not to the next round of finals.

What’s more, every well-documented story of post-”Idol” success only adds to the show’s equivalent of an employment brand – because it influences other candidates to audition for the show in hopes of achieving similar fame and fortune.  The same is true of any organization: as your employees advance – either within your company or later on in their careers because of the experiences and opportunities your company provided them – they naturally become advocates for your employment brand.

 Your turn. What did I miss?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
9 comments
AllisonSM
AllisonSM

Another lesson is to learn from constructive criticism and make adjustments accordingly. Most people want you to succeed! When suggestions are made regarding your work, accept them graciously - don't argue and justify yourself. You'll be better for it and those giving the suggestions will respect your willingness to learn.

AllisonSM
AllisonSM

Another lesson is to learn from constructive criticism and make adjustments accordingly. Most people want you to succeed! When suggestions are made regarding your work, accept them graciously - don't argue and justify yourself. You'll be better for it and those giving the suggestions will respect your willingness to learn.

HR
HR

FYI: Jordon Sparks WAS an American Idol.

HR
HR

FYI: Jordon Sparks WAS an American Idol.

S.M.
S.M.

Just a correction to #4 in your article, Jordin Sparks WAS crowned American Idol 2 seasons ago.

S.M.
S.M.

Just a correction to #4 in your article, Jordin Sparks WAS crowned American Idol 2 seasons ago.

Seattle Interview Coach
Seattle Interview Coach

I love the fact that you turned a recent TV event and looked for management lessons. You're putting tip #2 to good use -- always looking for hidden opportunities!

- Lewis, AKA Seattle Interview Coach

Seattle Interview Coach
Seattle Interview Coach

I love the fact that you turned a recent TV event and looked for management lessons. You're putting tip #2 to good use -- always looking for hidden opportunities!

- Lewis, AKA Seattle Interview Coach

Seattle Interview Coach
Seattle Interview Coach

I love the fact that you turned a recent TV event and looked for management lessons. You're putting tip #2 to good use -- always looking for hidden opportunities! - Lewis, AKA Seattle Interview Coach

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