Building on our last management article titled Identifying and Avoiding the Top Hazards of Why Employees Underperform, we are now going to look at what are the primary practices for boosting your companies’ talent, in order to give you more freedom to do what you want to do and leave your competition in the rear view mirror.
Now more than ever you have the opportunity to optimize your organizational talent. While cost cutting may be inevitable; it is important not to fall into some of the common traps that will put you at a disadvantage when there is a change in the economy.
The bottom line is that you need to know your human capital inventory well enough to make the best decision, and have the courage to take calculated risks to upgrade when the opportunity presents itself.
Our team has identified four essential practices for boosting your companies’ talent.
- Remove your chronic underperformers
- Remove your bad apples
- Uncover your hidden gems
- Never stop your hunt for high quality outside hires
Allow me to elaborate on the four essential tactics.
Remove Your Chronic Underperformers
A Common Scenario
You’ve probably seen this before: Jenny is a nice person and doesn’t cause a lot of waves, but she just isn’t very good at her job.
She’s moved around and has had a lot of chances, but she just doesn’t have what it takes to be effective. This is especially important for people in the higher pay scales.
Well, this is as good a time as any to clean house. First, identify your least effective employees. Then determine if they are chronic low performers, a bad fit for a particular job, have a bad manager, insufficient training, or simply lack resources.
However, you need to be honest with yourself. They may be nice people, but if they can’t or won’t add sufficient value, then you need to make the tough decision and let them go. If you endure them, then the marginal to top performers lose the incentive to go above and beyond average job performance; they see mediocrity is both tolerated and accepted.
Do you have the data to support your decisions?
These decisions are best made when supported by facts as opposed to opinion. There are many assessment tools that give you objective data to determine if an employee is a chronic underperformer or the victim of other circumstances that can be overcome. For this tactic as well as the others hard measurable data will also make your decision easier while minimizing your risks.
Remove Your Bad Apples
The T.O. Syndrome
Here’s another one that is probably familiar: Terrell Owens is a talented wide receiver but also a chronic bad apple. He has become a divisive distraction on every team on which he’s played.
Do you have bad apples on your team? These people may have some talent and may even be good at their jobs, but do their bad attitudes, negativity, and trouble-making behaviors really make them worth keeping? In these times, it is essential to get rid of them. Now more than ever, you need team players who are on board with the program.
We’re not advocating breeding a group of “yes-men.” The devil of implementing strategy is in the details, and you need people to raise their hand when they sense something isn’t right or is missing. But they need to do so in the spirit of making the organization better. Here is a short educational video about how much a bad apple hire can cost.
Have you considered the collateral damage?
Research shows that people assimilate to their environment, which means that poor morale is contagious. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged workers cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year.
Bad apples distract your productive employees and negatively impact productivity. When all is said and done, even a high-performing employee who has a bad attitude and no desire to be a team player will cost you much more than they are worth. Swallow hard and show them the door.
Uncover Your Hidden Gems
Low Cost + High Potential = Mother Load!
Once you have made necessary reductions and redeployments, begin tapping into your richest resources. Is your organization utilizing its talent to its fullest potential? They are called “human resources” for a reason! Make use of the resources you have, with a process to prospect within your departments.
According to an ASTD research study, most organizations focus on talent management for senior executives and high potentials. The decision to have such a narrow focus thwarts talent upgrade efforts. In order to upgrade talent company-wide, employees in all positions should be audited and considered.
Diamonds in the Rough
This will help you identify who has the DNA and desire to be a future leader in the organization and who is petered out. This will give you better insight into an employee’s long-term value to the company while giving them the chance to develop the skills and experience they need to shine. Do what it takes to give them opportunities and build loyalty in the process.
Using a repeatable, reproducible, and measurement based system that may include assessment instruments are extremely effective to help you sift through five tons of debris to find that two karat diamond.
Never Stop Your Hunt for High Quality Outside Hires
The Folly of Hiring Freezes
The notion of a “hiring freeze” is a ridiculous concept because you should always be on the lookout for the very best people you can find, regardless if they are internal or external recruits. Times of change and uncertainty present unique opportunities for organizations.
The supply of talent has never been so abundant or so affordable. There are large numbers of sales, finance and technical professionals trained at Fortune 500 companies looking for work. These people may not be right for every organization, but they often bring advanced training, know-how, and contacts.
It Costs Very Little to Look and Talk
It costs very little to assess and interview qualified candidates. This is especially true when you’re redesigning jobs to drive efficiencies in the organization. Although hiring outside candidates is usually viewed as being higher risk, not having a preconceived notion of how things were done in the past may actually enable them to adapt better than a tenured employee.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this: you have a unique opportunity. You can lower overhead while increasing efficiency and productivity. Dr. Jac Fitzenz, CEO of the Human Capital Source said, “Gaps in [the organizational fabric] are opportunities for someone to step in and make a difference in the way the fabric is re-woven.” Those who are kept should be made to feel that they are the chosen ones.
The Formula for Success
By strategically retaining your worthwhile employees, you increase the likelihood of them remaining with you for the long haul while also raising the level of accountability and the clear expectation for visible results. Combine this with some strategic outside hires and you have a formula for success.
1. Remove your chronic underperformers
• Identify chronic underperformers
• Assess job and managerial fit
2. Remove your bad apples
• Identify the bad apples
• Assess to determine if they can “get with the program”
• Be courageous and do the right thing
• Uncover your hidden gems
• Uncover who has hidden potential
• Take measures to help them realize their potential
• Build enthusiasm and loyalty for the long haul
• Never stop your hunt for high quality outside hires
• Just say “No” to hiring freezes
• Talent has never been so abundant or affordable
• It costs little to assess and interview potential candidates
As you create your strategic workforce plan and work to optimize the talent currently available in your organization, you will find yourself need to reorganize your business and redeploy your employees. The key to this is communication.
The following journal article in this series “Strategies for Reorganization, Redeployment and Recovery” demonstrates the difference in the ways that C-Level employees perceive change and offers ways to get everyone on the same page.