Business LeadershipElite AgentEPM: Leadership

Recruiting for performance

As a leader, one of the hardest tasks is managing different employees with different personalities and varying performance levels. Hannah Gill examines how to get the balance right.

If you’re a manager or leader you will likely have come across the age-old challenge of balancing values with results.

It’s a tough question; how do you create a sustainable culture that balances and upholds set values and is equally performance driven?

In any team, there are usually four types of performers. Jack Welch, Chairman and CEO of General Electric until 2001, described them in an annual report back in 2000:

1. Those who deliver results and live by the values.
2. Those who don’t deliver results but live by the values.
3. Those who don’t deliver results and don’t live by the values.
4. Those who deliver results but don’t live by the values.

It’s a simple and uncannily accurate framework, and I’m sure you can quite easily put your current team members (and yourself) in one of the four boxes.

Box one is where, as leaders, we’d love our people to sit. They are stars in their role and equally as important, they uphold the values of the team. If only it were that simple, we wouldn’t need to discuss the three other categories.

You’ll likely be familiar with those who sit in box two. They usually try hard and are great for culture but don’t set the world on fire with their performance.

This is a hard category for a leader as generally these are people you want to coach to help them slide across to box one. However, sometimes they are just not able to make that next step.

There are three options here:

• reposition them so they can be a star in their (new) role
• help them find a job elsewhere
• or accept the reality of their performance and cultural contribution.

It’s a decision only you can make with consideration to the broader team. Too many people in box two make for a fun, harmonious environment, but not a great bottom line.

I like to think that any business leader with employees in box three would agree they are not the right person for the business. The cost to teamwork and culture is too high.

As leaders, we try not to recruit people who fit into box three, but sometimes they slip through undetected. As soon as you notice them, the best thing you can do is help them move on.

Employees in box four can be a conundrum. Like box two, I’m sure you’ll be able to think of a team member (current or past) who fits in this category. They might be referred to by the team as rockstars or brats.

It will depend on your business and goals whether you are prepared to tolerate the impact this member has on your team culture because they are fantastic at delivering results.

Equally, if you have a team that mostly sit in box four, then it may cause you less grief (aside from managing their likely competing egos).

It’s never easy to let top performers go as we often worry about who will fill the gap and deliver in their place. A two-part approach is the way to resolve this.

It will depend on your business and goals whether you are prepared to tolerate the impact this member has on your team culture

First, support, coach and performance manage such employees into box one and try to do so quickly. If they’re not prepared to change, then make the call and move them on.

What you will more than likely find is the rest of the team will come together and fill the gap your outgoing rockstar has left. Your team will respect you more, and you might be pleasantly surprised with who steps up.

As a manager, ensure consistency in your decision making. Never make exceptions as this is a sure-fire way to damage the morale of individuals and deflate culture.

Each employee shares in this responsibility too. We all have our moments where we might stray into box three or four territory, but we all have a responsibility to ensure our ongoing cultural and performance-based contribution, so being self-aware to reposition ourselves quickly is a must.

In playing our part, we give ourselves and our team the best chance of success – both culturally and performance wise. Who doesn’t love being part of a high-performing team

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