You want everyone on your staff to respect you. But what matters even more is that your top performers enjoy working for you. Their adoration will keep them from jumping ship. The easiest way to foster a mutual admiration society with your star employees is to flatter them sincerely. Here's how to shine the spotlight on them:
Couple flattery with shrewd observations. There's nothing wrong with telling an employee, "You did a great job handling those customers." But it's better if you share an observation such as, "What was great about your handling of those customers is how they started smiling and nodding as soon as you made your recommendations."
Quote the star. Cite an intelligent or insightful comment by your employee when talking withor peers. Then tell the employee about it.
Memorialize their accomplishments. Send memos or e-mails to your entire unit--including higher-ups--in which you describe your employees' contributions. If your organization uses an intranet, post the star's photo along with your account of his or her triumph. Be specific; cite measurable gains as a result of the employee's outstanding performance. Turn high achievers into companywide celebrities.
Seek their advice. You honor employees by soliciting their input on an important business matter. Just don't ask them about delicate personnel issues or you may violate others' confidentiality.