Imagine if your organization could take the best attributes of the best employees and replicate those behaviours throughout the organization. Chances are that a small percentage of your workforce generates a large percentage of your results. They sell more, screw up less, waste less and raise the bar for those around them. If you had only top performers, what would happen to your efficiency, productivity and profitability?
Benchmarking within your organization
Benchmarking has long been used by leading corporations to see how they measure up to world class competitors from around the globe. In the same way, it is possible to benchmark the performance of individuals performing the same task and close the gaps that hold the organization back from achieving its full potential.
Pecking order of performance
As you look around your workplace it is usually apparent the pecking order of performance. Most people know who the top, middle and bottom performers are. Many managers just accept the fact that they are stuck with this distribution of performance and they tend to heap more work on the good performers and less work on the poor performers. Accepting below-potential performance drives down profit, drives up costs and tends to keep wages flat because as a whole group, performance is average. The top performer doesn’t get the increased wages they deserve and to bottom performer uses up valuable financial resources without creating enough value.
Instead of just accepting average as good enough, what if you really examined the top performers and looked at the DNA – the attributes that make them great performers. You will discover that there are a few big differentiating factors and a number of little behaviours that contribute to their success.
When companies ask us to facilitate this process, it includes spending time with the top performer and his or her manager to identify all the specific behaviours that make them great.
Cloning top performers
Some managers mistakenly believe that the top performer is ‘Born with it’ and therefore their secret cannot be transferred to others. Chances are the top performer worked hard, over a long period of time to master his or her job. If you break down what they do into smaller pieces you will likely discover that there are key things top performers do. It may be in the way they prepare themselves for the task. It may be a sense of judgement or intuitive feel they get. If asked, they can reveal why they get this ‘gut feel’ and how they think differently about their task. You can get an even more vivid picture by studying the behaviours and characteristics of bottom performers and contrasting that with the top performers.
Distil the information into a set of expectations or benchmarks that can be used to groom more top performers. Build it into performance measurement, job descriptions, training and reward systems.
Training programs can be much more focused on building skills and behaviours demonstrated by top performers.
Expect the best
Once top performance is understood and finds its way into job descriptions, training, performance appraisals, and reward systems, management has to become relentless in the pursuit of top results. A culture of top performance is maintained when top performers are rewarded and bottom performers are confronted, corrected and removed from the organization.
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