TOP Performers: How to Find (& Keep) the Best

Written October 2, 2011

There has been a lot of talk about businesses struggling in this weak economy. We’ve heard of slumping sales, budget cutting, lay-offs and even business closures. But that’s not the case for everybody. A minority of businesses are thriving in this economy, reaching goals and doing better than ever.

Managers or owners of these successful businesses always seem to praise the individuals who are working for them and the productivity they provide. On the same note, many struggling business managers blame their people.

Whereas successful businesses always seem to praise their people, they should praise their “people systems.” It is actually the strict hiring process and competent coaching/managing/motivating system that promotes their success.

Once a company realizes there is no guesswork or gamble involved in hiring, developing or retaining employees, and it creates consistent people systems, a company is well on its way to success.

There are three things successful businesses always do better than their counterparts. First, they put the right person in the right position the first time through job matching. Second, they “individually” train, manage and coach their employees. And third, they know when it’s time to replace a struggling non-producer.

With proven, consistent hiring and managing systems, companies improve retention, sales, teamwork and leadership effectiveness. Besides these vast improvements in productivity and revenues, another positive is they don’t have to replace as many employees as they had to in the past, thus greatly saving recruitment, hiring and training costs.

Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, writes, “Chances are good that 66 percent of your company’s hiring decisions will prove to be mistakes in the first 12 months.” Whether these struggling, non-producers are replaced or not, this means that two of three employees should never have been hired for the job they hold.
Through job matching, successful companies know how well a candidate fits the position before making a hiring decision. By building “Job Success Patterns” based on the behavior traits, interests and skills of the top performers in every position, and comparing candidates to these benchmarking standards, a company will know how well a person will perform the job if hired, thus eliminating the guesswork and risk of hiring.

As companies continue to struggle with the 80/20 dilemma (80 percent of their productivity comes from 20 percent of their workforce), and managers spend more than 60 percent of their time on personnel issues stemming from miscast employees, they must realize the hiring issue will not take care of itself. If ignored, the problem will only get worse.

A hiring system should never take “gut feel” into consideration. In his book, “Hire With Your Head,” Lou Adler wrote, “First impressions based on emotions, biases, chemistry, personality and stereotyping cause more hiring mistakes than any other single factor.”

Without creating thorough job descriptions and benchmarks built on top performers for every position in your bank and then comparing candidates to this organized data to measure job fit, gut feel is still playing a major role in the hiring process. Sure, the resume and interview can help you measure the skill, experience and company match, but that’s just a minute portion of what you need to know before hiring. Experts estimate information gathered from exaggerated resumes and rehearsed interview answers is only 10 percent of the information required to make a sound hiring decision.

The essence of the total person, or the remaining 90 percent, is gathered by considering the candidate’s skills and abilities, occupational interests and behavioral traits. This is the documented data you have on your current employees and your top performers.

Whereas every employee is a unique individual with diverse experience, ability, interests and behaviors, most companies continue to train, coach and motivate every individual exactly the same. In addition, they expect the same productivity from these individuals.

In 1999, the Harvard Business Review wrote, “In these days of talent wars, the best way to keep your stars is to know them better than they know themselves – and then use that information to customize the careers of their dreams.” Without truly knowing the interests, significant behavioral tendencies, preferred style of performing a job and motivators, it is virtually impossible to receive the maximum productivity from an employee.