High Performers and Your Organization

We define a high performing employee as someone who meets or exceeds reasonable, but demanding expectations on a consistent basis. We are continually amazed at the number of organizations that have an unacceptably low percentage of their total employee base represented by high performers.

A significant problem in many organizations is that management overrates the performance of employees. This is significant because it speaks to the quality of management in place as well. By doing an unacceptable job of hiring and developing as many high performers as possible, the organization is put at significant risk of failure or, at the very least, suppressed performance. In many organizations, the percentage of high performers is easily less than 50 percent. And it is not uncommon to find companies with 25 percent or less of the employee base represented by high performers. It is critical for organizations to regularly examine their employees relative to performance. This issue is very often clouded by the fact that management is not heavily represented by high performers.

In companies where management understands how to establish accountability for high performance, the percentage of high performers to the total employee base tends to be much higher. However, too many managers are not adept at establishing clear, demanding and reasonable expectations and then following up to ensure that performance is measured against those expectations. Also, too many hiring and promotion decisions are based on improper criteria. There are simply too many employees in many organizations who are not well suited to doing the jobs they currently hold. This is a crucial reason why organizations underperform. It is difficult to get management to look at these issues objectively. A primary reason for this is the fact that too often managers are not well suited to their job of management.

We admonish all organizations to look as objectively as possible at the issue of performance of employees. This requires an introspective look by management as the starting point.