Friday, September 27, 2013

Where's Your Focus? Underperformers vs. High Performers

Building on my last post, I noticed an interesting column in Fortune by Anne Fisher this week.  The title is, "Tell-tale signs your employees are job hunting."  In the article, Fisher quotes Paul McDonald, an executive at staffing firm Robert Half International.  McDonald talks about how managers can improve talent retention.  He says,

"As managers, we spend most of our time on problems, including underperforming employees, and on getting our own work done. Budgeting time for high performers becomes almost an afterthought," he observes. "What works a lot better is flipping that order on its head, putting top employees first, then our own work, then problem employees." Easier said than done but, as holding on to stars gets harder, it's worth a try."

I am in total agreement with McDonald on this point.   I think managers have to ask themselves five questions about how they are managing underperformers vs. high performers:
1.  With which group am I spending the bulk of my time?

2.  Am I checking in regularly with my most talented folks to see what their needs and goals are?

3.  In what ways, beyond pay and promotion, am I recognizing high achievement, both publicly and privately?

4.  Do I invest my development resources mainly to improve the skills of low performers or to help take high performers to next level?

5. Am I dragging my feet in addressing poor performance issues, and as a result, creating disillusionment and frustration among my top employees?

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