Great CEOs understand that investing in human capital is paramount to growing their companies. The concept is simple: Helping your employees perform at an optimal level will help your profits perform, too.
Every organization has its high-performers — if you buy into the “80-20 rule,” they typically make up 20 percent of your workforce — who consistently produce at a high level. You love them. You wish you could clone an army of them. They’re the star quarterbacks on your bowl-bound team.
But not everyone can be an MVP. The majority of your professionals, the other 80 percent, fall into the “average” category. They aren’t good enough to call “high performers,” but not bad enough to get rid of, either. They are just average.
What if you could get the 80 percent to perform more like the 20 percent? Here’s how I’ve helped companies strengthen average employees through personal accountability.
1. Know how your employees will react
As we’ve established, not all employees are created equal. This is especially evident in their reaction to criticism.
High-performers are accountable by nature, constantly thinking of ways they can improve themselves with or without your well-thought-out performance review. They probably think more about performance improvement than you do.
Average performers, on the other hand, spend less time reflecting on their work and might wrestle with your feedback. They aren’t as accountable as your high-performers, so your well-meaning performance review creates hardship, negative emotions, and contempt. Knowing this changes how we approach the 80 percent.
2. Help employees own their work
If you want to inspire the average segment to get moving, try some type of accountability training prior to your performance reviews. This will condition your employees to own what they do and want more out of it as a result.
If you can convince even half of your average employees to focus on improvement, the entire workforce benefits tremendously. You may even get some of your poor performers to become average.
3. Focus on how “we” can improve
Make sure you communicate that you appreciate each employee’s efforts, but always articulate how can “we” do more. Never focus on “you,” because average performers can become defensive if they feel like it’s a personal attack.
Emphasizing the “we” in your conversation will make improvement feel like more of a team effort.
4. Maintain a coaching culture
Create an atmosphere where coaching is a part of the job when you onboard new employees. By introducing them to the company culture early on — specifically to your high-performers — employees can keep each other accountable.
5. Set ambitious goals
Set high benchmarks that will push your average producers without discouraging them. This will create scenarios and expectations for more production. Always dangle the carrot!
6. Celebrate great performance
Always celebrate your top performers publicly as a motivator for them to keep producing. This will motivate some of your average performers to produce more. Rewards could be things like choice seats at your awards banquet or an invitation-only high-performer’s breakfast with a guest speaker.
7. Nourish potential
There are many great ways to motivate your best average performers to continue climbing. For example, try spending one-on-one time with your average performers who have the most potential to elevate their performance.
You could also budget professional coaching for your up-and-comers, or facilitate team brainstorming sessions. Employees work harder when they feel that their ideas are being heard.
Please share in the comments which of these 7 you will apply in your business and why.