2014-03-26

Get more from your employees

Drake Editorial Team

Average isn't good enough anymore, not in this competitive environment. If you accept average performance from your employees, you're doing your company a huge disservice. So why do so many of us mutely accept mediocre performance? Perhaps it is because raising the bar isn't easy; taking corrective action can be unpleasant; and if you haven't done any of this before, it may not be clear how or where to begin.


One place to begin is examining performance in your organization using the 20–60–20 percent rule. In nearly any employee group, 20% are strong performers, 60% are average performers, 20% are weak performers.


You have three possible places to begin, but which one's most critical? Your strong performers are already doing fine under your current management, so don't waste time fixing what isn't broken. We'll come back to them later. That leaves your average performers — your majority — and your weak performers, a smaller but more dangerous group. With whom do you start, and what do you do?


The good news is you can kill two birds with one stone. When you start vigorously managing your weakest employees, it makes a bigger impact on your next group up, the average workers.


If you aren't taking action against underperforming employees — who are unproductive or come in late and waste time or perhaps don't come in at all, the message you send to your average workers is that there are no consequences for poor performance. Remember, your employees are well aware of one another's behaviour, even if management pretends not to notice. This fosters a culture of apathy and negativity, which drags everyone down.


On the other hand, if you start holding underperformers accountable, many of your average employees may just step it up a notch, all by themselves.


You have a number of ways to manage poorly performing employees. Start by creating job descriptions and performance standards for everyone — a step too many small employers overlook. Job descriptions are incredibly useful tools: telling employees what's expected of them; giving you a standard for measuring performance, a must at raise and bonus time; and protecting employers against wrongful termination suits because they are a specific tool for documenting problems.


If employees aren't performing well in their job, determine why. If it is a training issue, make training available, and you may solve the problem. If they are good workers but poorly suited to the job, see if there's a more appropriate role for them elsewhere in the company. Or if they simply have very poor work habits and you cannot possibly motivate them to improve their performance, you need to do the toughest thing of all —  terminate them.


Neutron Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, is famous for his extreme managerial practices. In the 1980s, Welch insisted that each year, all department managers rank their personnel and eliminate the bottom 10% of workers. His theory was that it raises performance expectations and keeps everyone — even stellar employees — on their toes. Fear of losing one's job is a powerful motivation.


While Welch's practice was radical, it is also dangerously radical to keep non-performers on board: Plain and simple, they are hurting your business. Cut them loose, and you'll send ripples throughout your organization, shaking up other non-performers and prodding average employees to aim higher. As a bonus, you'll boost morale among your top performers, because it shows that you're paying attention and that you value good work.


According to an old Icelandic proverb, "Mediocrity is climbing molehills without sweating." If you want to climb mountains, not molehills, develop a zero tolerance for mediocrity. Use the 20–60–20 percent rule to keep your employees moving upward.


Reprinted with the permission of Ray Silverstein, President of PRO, Presidents Resource Organization, a network of peer advisory boards for small-business owners and author of The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses and Small Business Survival Guide: How to Survive (and Thrive) in Tough Times. 1 800 818-0150 or ray@propres.com.

2016-07-11

Focus on: leadership

Roxi Hewertson, Drake International

Today’s rapid pace of change, and the complexity of the environment, demands strong leadership at every level — from the top down and from the bottom up — if organizations are to be successful...

Read More

2016-03-01

Why leaders fail to deliver: voices from the front...

Dr. Clinton O. Longnecker

The study identified the top 10 factors, plus a bonus factor, that cause leadership failure, which are ranked in the hierarchical order that emerged from our focus groups...

Read More

04/08/2022

The Positive Impact of COVID on our Environment

Drake Editorial

There is no question, we have endured major disruption over the last two years though with all bad, comes good and rather than focusing on the negatives, it is helpful to consider the positives. The global pandemic has changed the way in which we live and work. For many months, workers were subjected to either working from home (WFH) or a hybrid model working both from home and the office. Despite some discomfort being confined to your home residence, often 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, it had a vast, positive impact on the environment that became evident quite early in 2020. 

Read more

2015-07-13

Top five metrics for workforce analytics

Jeff Higgins, Grant Cooperstein, Moun Peterson, & Katy Colletto

Over the past few years, organizations have done an unprecedented amount of restructuring, retrenchment, and downsizing. Much of this has been very reactionary, without time to think or take into consideration the optimal...

Read More

11/19/2021

Can You Create A Culture of Care?

MICHELLE MCQUAID

Despite many workplaces investing in wellbeing this year, burn out rates and resignations are the rise, leaving many leaders asking: “How should we be caring for our teams?” New research suggests that caring for wellbeing is only part of the solution and that broken organisational cultures really lie at the heart of the problem.

Read more

2012-04-18

They are partners - not employees

Drake Editorial Team

Talent management is a field that requires a healthy dose of leadership on the part of its practitioners who must be innovators and influencers.

Read More