Clone Your Top Performers

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What if you, as a leader, could clone your top performers?

Many leaders fantasize about having the ability to clone their top performers, so they have even more of them in their work group.

Of course, we are not talking about a lab experiment where we extract DNA from your best people and breed more of them. Although, maybe someday that will be possible.

We are talking about how you can observe the top performers you have, identify the key elements that make them different, and then pollinate that across the work group.

Here are three steps for you to do just that:

The first step is to observe. This isn’t isolated to just watching people with your own eyes. You might want to consider recording and reviewing your top person to understand their approach. That way, you can clearly identify their process and understand what’s allowing them to create notable results. Take, for example, a paper-making business we recently spoke with—they knew that some of their supervisors did a much better job than others in terms of monitoring and setting up the work for the day. It was suggested that this person be “followed” and observed in their day-to-day work so that a training program could be built around their processes.

This too could be a valuable approach for you and your company to consider.

If you want to see an interesting contrast, take what your top performers do and compare it to what your medium or bottom performers do. This will help you identify what key aspects seem to make the biggest difference.

To clarify: it’s not good enough to just ask your top performers, “What is it that you do that’s different from everyone else?”

It’s very difficult for high performers in any field to tell you exactly what makes them successful. “It’s best if you actually observe and record them so you can point out the positive behaviors. Much like a coach does with game tapes, you can review what’s being done to help identify what your top performers are doing differently.

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Once you have gone beyond the observing stage, the second thing to do is to document what you are seeing. Once you have analyzed the game tape, you can put it into a procedure, checklist or best practices document. Then, you can identify nuances that might make someone different. I talked about that in a recent Leader Feeder episode on how athletes are conquering distance.

Once you have put it into a process, you can use it to train other people. Again, you can use videotaping or other permission-based recordings to do so. It will help show your team the differences in their performance versus the standard you are trying to achieve.

 Two manual workers talking while cooperating during quality control inspection in steel factory.

The third aspect is to train and coach. Training is more around skills and knowledge, while coaching is around making observations that can help someone change their behavior to increase their performance. Training could be a group workshop or small group work with a team of people that perform the same job. Coaching could be where you have identified and observed certain behaviors in a member of your team—and then share with them a suggestion for how they could do it even better.

By implementing these three simple tips, from observing, recording or documenting, to training and coaching behaviors you want to replicate, you can help, in essence, clone your top performers.

Even if it seems like a fantasy to build a team exclusively with top performers, imagine if you could take every person on your team and elevate their performance just slightly. It would make a huge difference to your output, your ability to satisfy customers, and to be competitive going forward.