Monday, November 9, 2015

Performance Part II…”The Best”

Last time I presented the idea that human performance is not represented in the classic Bell curve or normal distribution. In fact, studies have shown that the majority of people are “average” and there’s not much difference between those in the “big middle”. Assuming you have a reasonably competent “big middle”, organizational success tends to be driven by working on the “tails”. Attract and retain the best. Identify and remove the worst. So, in the next few weeks we are going to address three subjects: The Best, The Big Middle and The Worst.

The Big Middle is the foundation. But it takes “The Best “ in leadership roles to build AND maintain that foundation. At some point, any successful organization has had one or more of “The Best” people in charge. And, at some point, any failing organization is lacking some of “The Best” in key positions. I see it all of time in transportation and logistics. Companies spring up under a smart, dynamic, energetic owner and grow profitably…up to a point. Eventually, the organization becomes too large for one person to manage, and without a few more of “The Best” in key positions, begins to flounder.

There’s no set rule regarding how many of “The Best” an organization needs in order to be successful. Some might argue that, starting at the top, it would be great if every role which has significant leadership responsibility or a major impact on the bottom line could be filled by one of “The Best” or at least someone who has the potential to become one of “The Best”. The reality is that no organization has one of “The Best” in every key position. There just aren’t enough of those to go around. But, you need enough of them to separate your organization from the competition. Note, I did not say that you need enough of them to be competitive. You can compete, at least for awhile, with a solid “Big Middle” of average people who show up and do their job every day and that includes some of your executives. But if you are going to “separate your organization from the competition” you need some of those “Best” performers, the exceptional top five percenters.

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
-Thomas Edison

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