The #1 Demotivator For Top Performers
Your stars… top dogs… numero unos… aces in the hole… big guns… elite team… top performers. You know who they are!
They deliver great work and have great potential. They are important for your business. Critical actually. They can drive a good company to great and their absence can tip the company to mediocre.
If that doesn’t convince you of their importance, consider that top performers who do discretionary work (i.e. beyond the minimum required) are worth as much as eight “regular” employees.
It’s safe to say that it’s important to hold on to your top performers and attract more of them to your company. That’s why my attention peaked (and my ears propped up) when I heard this:
“The #1 demotivator for top performers is when leaders tolerate low performers or, worse yet, reward them!”
I was at a human capital workshop focused on retaining talent that delivered by the brilliant Sal Giambanco (VP human Capital at Omidyar Network and formerly VP HR at PayPal) to over 20 Endeavor Entrepreneurs who came from different countries and industries.
The sentence rang a bell for me and confirmed the same conclusion I made a while ago. I saw it with people I managed and people worked with. I lived through this frustrating feeling of watching mediocre performers get rewarded as much as, if not more than, top performers. Top performers said “what’s the point in me delivering great work when this dude is getting rewarded for crap work!“.
As a manager or business owner, recognizing your talent is critical. Living with mediocre performers is one thing, but losing top performers is a problem. It will cost you more than eight times the firepower you think… you will be stuck with the poor performer. Do that for long enough and you will taking the life out of your company.
Instead, your business and team is better served when you focus your energy on your top talent (vs. the average manager who spends 80% of his/her energy on bottom performers). Your business is better off when you are strict about evicting poor performers from your business to make room for better performers. Don’t be proud of having zero turnover in staff. Losing mediocre or poor performers is better than keeping them. An exception is when you have someone with great potential who can realize that potential better when shifted into a better fit position in the organization.
So think twice before you reward that under-performer; you might be doing it without realizing it. It will cost you more than you think.