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In June, fellow PIC contributor, Tiffany Kuehl wrote a post that cautioned organizations not to become “the place where talent goes to waste away”. She described an environment that for some is quite familiar.
- The work is not challenging.
- Leaders are not effectively utilizing the skills, experiences, and abilities of their teams.
- Employees are bored.
- Career advancement and performance development discussions are all talk and no action.
Her advice to leaders was to keep high performing/high potential employees engaged and take corrective action against the issues listed above or risk losing top talent to other organizations.
In some organizations, the coveted title of “high performer” or “high potential” is so rare that only those identified as such know that the designation exists. There is a lack of transparency that enables the next tier of employees to aspire to and model the behavior of those who are considered the top performers.
In a Talent Wasteland the lack of engagement and unexceptional performance of those deemed the top percentile should afford the “regular” performers the opportunity to be great. Here are a few examples of “untitled high performers” with whom I’ve come in contact while wandering in the Talent Wasteland.
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- A millennial, enthusiastic, focused, innovative, superstar Engineer who gives 150% every day and watches lazy, uninspired “golden-child” coworkers receive training and development while they stay behind and complete the work for the group.
- The tenured, go-to, get-er-done, guru Systems Analyst who consistently outperforms and outshines their “peers” yet is graded levels below them.
- The overworked, stretched-thin, never says no, customer and candidate focused Junior Recruiter whose quality and quantity of hires are unrivaled, but is denied the equitable promotion and pay they deserve.
I’ve spent a good amount of time pondering why it isn’t obvious to leaders that there are so-called regular performers who are actually outperforming the high performers. The P.I.E. Model (Performance, Image, Exposure) provided an easy answer. Using the model, performance is only 10% of the equation and exposure is the overwhelming majority at 60%. Given this revelation, it made sense that because of their greater level of exposure and access to opportunities, once they receive the title, high performing/high potential, employees can perform at any level they choose, even well below previously set standards. Conversely, “regular performers” can’t assume that their exceptional work will speak for itself and must seek opportunities to deliver to leaders with influence.
If you want your workplace to resemble a Talent Eden, leaders have to take the entire onus for top performance off of those that were set apart while the organization was operating in Wasteland mode. It is likely that the selection process was flawed and many of them are bored, unchallenged, and looking for an out. I guarantee, if you look below the surface, there are also high performers in your organization who don’t wait for someone else to identify them as such.
So, what can you do?
- Stop putting your employees in a box that may not be large enough to contain their true performance potential.
- Don’t limit employees with finite, obligatory, uninspiring performance objectives that stifle growth and development.
- Make sure you leave room for intentional high performance from those you have mistakenly overlooked in the past.
Effecting these changes may not significantly alter the P.I.E. percentages but it will provide more employees the opportunity to gain exposure through their stellar performance.