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Energy Efficiency

Adam Miller (North America) - How North American Organisations are Engaging Middle Performers for Competitive Advantage

As CEOs, we know that our people are our greatest asset. We also have become accustomed to thinking in terms of "high" and "low" performers, rewarding and promoting the former and trying to address the weaknesses of the latter. But in the middle of the talent spectrum lie the vast majority of consistent, average performers -made up of middle managers, supervisors, technical experts, specialists and other skilled employees. According to Bersin & Associates' research in the U.S., they represent about 74% of a company's workforce. They are solid, dependable, stable employees who get the job done. Frankly, we couldn't run our businesses without them, but are we maximising their potential?

In many U.S. companies, the answer is no. Additional Bersin research found that U.S. managers spend about 80% their time focusing on high and low performers. As a consequence, those in the middle get disproportionately less attention and fewer professional and development opportunities available to them.

Of course, there are historic reasons for this. In the past, training and development was more time-consuming and expensive - so it was focused where executives believed it could deliver greatest benefit - on high and low performers. That was a false premise. In 2003, the Sales Executive Council published a study called "Shifting the Performance Curve." This noted that a 5% performance gain from the middle 60% of a workforce yields over 70% more revenue than a 5% shift from the top 20% of high performers.

So why aren't more organisations engaging their middle performers? Yes, it requires effort, but without it, average performers will just stay average. In fact today's integrated learning, performance and talent management technology solutions provide businesses with usable data on the knowledge and skills of every employee - not just the high or low performers. End-to-end integrated talent management offers many ways to empower your staff and build bench strength:

Talent mobility: Enabling them to follow career tracks that suit their aspirations, with opportunities to make horizontal as well as vertical moves and ensure the right people are in the right jobs

Succession planning: Making this an interactive, organisation-wide and bottom-up process can help to identify middle performers who have leadership potential and then target development initiatives more effectively

Career pathing: Empowering employees to plan and manage their own career development by providing information about what it takes to make the next step (or more)

Development-driven performance management: Offering forward-looking appraisal and development opportunities based upon regular candid discussions about performance, development and aspirations. A manager can provide career coaching, identify development opportunities and recommend employees for job openings. Middle performers also need to understand how they are contributing to the organization so seemingly abstract goals may be turned into usable ones

Social collaboration: New technologies can level the playing field and give all employees access to information that allows them to do their jobs better and faster, and build relationships across the organisation. They can also be used to identify potential superstars - such as highly connected individuals with strong networks or those who have specialist knowledge.

Transforming ordinary performers into extraordinary ones requires commitment, effort and a talent management technology infrastructure - but the reward is competitive advantage.


About Adam Miller, President and CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand - Adam Miller is the founder and CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand, a leading global provider of learning and talent management software.

 

 

 

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