“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is a well known saying for describing how noticeable problems get all the attention. But what if the problem is a difficult employee or poor performer? How much time and energy should be invested in that person? Are you spending 90% of your time on the worst 10% of your performers? If you are taking your eye off the best in your company in favor of the weakest, you’re going to see a drop in overall company performance.
As consultants we have the advantage of being perceived as an impartial third party when we begin to work with clients. Upon getting to know the staff they will invariably “confide” in us about a problem employee. Usually the same person’s name comes up over and over. And usually the business owner is aware of the situation but hasn’t addressed it, mainly because they don’t know how.
The answer is team development. Use your top performers as a benchmark for improvement. There are a number of organization development methods you can apply to bring your team together and continually strive for improved performance. One method we use with our Leadership Groups is called “High-Middle-Low” which ranks the overall company team.
Poor performance in an organization can unveil conditions in the business culture that allow it to happen. For example, do you have a flaw in your hiring process that does not screen for what we call “right talent, right fit?” Are you using a structured process for hiring, what we call the “three leg stool approach?” Do you use a valid, interviewing tool with appropriate open-ended questions? Do you use a behavioral assessment tool to obtain an objective view of a prospective hire?
Post-hire, are the right metrics in place to measure performance? For similar positions (such as staff therapists) we encourage sharing everyone’s metrics publicly in a grid so everyone can see each other’s productivity and perhaps trade tips and tricks. Is everyone incentivized for success? Fostering a team approach ensures everyone works together toward a common goal.
Top performers want to work with other top performers. Yes, there may be times that you need to terminate employees. That’s what leaders do. But if you have put in place a culture of performance and responsibility, the momentum will take your company to the top.