If there is one thing I’ve learned in this industry over the past few decades it is that performance is infectious.
If you have outstanding high-performing staff, others will start to push upward to be like them.
But if you have slackers, jerks, misfits, and folks with bad attitudes and questionable performance…they can influence others as well.
Who Do You Have On Your Team?
Close your eyes and mentally consider your staff. I’ll bet you have a mix of everyone.
A long time ago when I was in college I took a leadership training class. The instructor explained something called the “Law of Thirds.”
This means that in any group, the top third will be composed of the absolute best people. They always excel. Not only do they show up, but are often early and ready to “get a jump” on things. Their attitude is the best. They want to learn and to excel. This is your A-team.
The middle third is comprised of people who have some good skills, but they don’t always do things correctly. There are some occasional problems that you have to correct. They could be late a few times or get into some minor trouble, but their work is usually good. This is your B-team.
The bottom third is where you can find your problem children. They are often in trouble. You may have written some up or suspended them for something. They may have attendance or quality issues. They often “don’t get it” when it comes to company policy. It is hard to train them, and they can have bad attitudes about work. Often, you wonder why they were hired in the first place. By the way, your A and B team players think that too.
Here Is Your Leadership Challenge
Your leadership challenge for running your company is always going to be dealing with your people.
First, you want to make your A-team top performers happy. You want to keep these folks around. What are you doing for them on a constant basis so they know you love and support them? You better have a plan.
For your middle third B-team players, you know sometimes that their performance can be off a little bit. Develop a plan to help them succeed. Extra training, input, and guidance can do wonders. Your goal is to work with them and develop them into top-tier A-team staff members. This should be an on-purpose effort.
Lastly, for those bottom third malcontents, your goal is to drive them up to the middle-third level or terminate them. These people can have a bad influence on the day-to-day performance of other people in your company. A-team people do not want to work with them. B-team people can be influenced by them and start down the slippery slope of bad habits.
Building Company Culture
In your company have you defined your company culture? Do you talk about what it is like to work here, and what is expected?
Are goals clearly defined and do people know exactly what to do at all times?
Often, employees don’t line up with what the boss “has in mind” because that hasn’t been clearly articulated and defined. Also, before you start looking at an employee’s productivity levels, be sure to observe how other people and departments can influence how they work. This could be good or bad.
Start talking about “streaks.” This is how many days in a row something magical happens. One of my favorite authors, Seth Godin has a great quote:
“Build streaks. Do the work every single day. Blog daily, write daily, ship daily, show up daily. Find your streak and maintain it. Talk about your streaks to keep honest.”
How many days in a row have you hit a high mark in your company for sales? For production? For employees being on time? Something else that matters maybe?
“The art of moving forward lies in the understanding on what to leave behind.” – Seth Godin
“There’s nothing wrong with having a plan. Plans are great. But missions are better. Missions survive when plans fail, and plans almost always fail.” – Seth Godin
“Management is not leadership. Management is telling people what to do. Leadership is saying, ‘We’re all enrolled in this journey, let’s go over there. I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to get there… let’s go over there.’” – Seth Godin
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