Consider The Five Things That Set the Performance Pace to “Super-Achiever”
A Contributor does just that…contributes. The minimum contribution expectation is what must be defined. Once defined, and if the minimums are achieved then there are no justifiable grounds for termination. Why? Because, Barely Meeting Expectations = Meeting Expectations. If we say that an employee is just meeting expectation then; according to the definition of just (actual,real, or genuine), they have done all that we really stated our expectation to be.
It is the responsibility of management to redefine minimums if performance is not meeting business demands. There will always be performance variance in a group which ranges from under minimum to exceeding minimums. The median is generally NOT the largest group. According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine; contributing author Josh Bersin, human employment performance does not follow the standard Bell Curve theory- or norms of distribution; which indicates that there will be a very small number of “super-performers” and an approximately equal number of “under(or bottom)-performers”, with the balance residing in the median range as the largest group. This approach to personnel ranking and management results in what he calls the “Rank and Yank”. In essence forcing performance managers to identify the few top and bottom performers in ranking, appraisals and ultimately in compensation. In this model you identify the majority of your team as “average” and then presumably remove the bottom in an effort to continuously raise the median bar.
In the research which Josh Bersin references, 94% of the groups studied did not follow this performance distribution at all. Referring to a “Long-Tail” chart, the research shows that the distribution is much broader (as the name implies); and places a far smaller groups in what can be called a “Good-Performer” category, with even fewer in the Super-Performer category. Interestingly, there is further evidence that this very small group at the top accomplishes a disproportionate percent of the business. I agree with this analogy; especially if the Good Performers are treated like “High Potential”.
I liken this to the “race horse” theory. That is to say that a top thoroughbred will only run at maximum speed when it is running alongside a horse which pushes it or contests it’s front running position. Like fine thoroughbreds, most people want to at minimum run “at pace” with their peers. It is up to management to set the pace.
In my experience the most effective approach to setting performance expectations; and where I have had the greatest success, is to set a pace that accomplish all these things simultaneously:
1. Conveys a clear vision of what Super Performance will accomplish and why we should pursue it.
2. It is a stretch to achieve by the Good Performers and raises the bar above current performance.
3. Encourages, Rewards, Empowers and Retains Super Performers with Leadership by example.
4. Provides all contributors with the tools, training and example needed to achieve performance at or above that line within a defined timeframe.
5. Clearly communicates that a line does exist between acceptable and unacceptable performance levels and the consequences of not achieving it.
Louise Haller- Performance and Quality Management Professional