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Understanding Your Organization's Top Performers
Authored By: HR Performance on 3/21/2017

Who are your best employees and what do you really know about them? Did you hire them from a certain industry? Did they move up through your organization via a specific career path? Have they worked under a manager who helped them take their skills to the next level? How do you determine who the best people are so you can begin to replicate their success?

Performance Appraisals are a Simple But Effective Way to Understand Top Performers

One place to look for your stars is with performance ratings. To help, some organizations opt to have one performance appraisal to evaluate all of their employees. That is one way to equalize scores and appraise everyone on the same standard. Other organizations mix different competencies into various performance appraisals. This allows them to appraise employees on the unique roles in their organizations but still have standardized competencies to help administrative users compare commonalities.

Whichever format your organization chooses, you can begin to look for those employees who rise to the top based on these numbers. Cross-reference performance management scores with position-specific metrics such as sales numbers, billable hours, customer support scores, etc., to add dimensions to your findings. Recognizing these employees helps you to know who you need to keep. You can’t attempt to retain people you aren’t keeping your eye on.  

Thinking Through Your Findings

When you have data, don't just look for people with a history of great performance, but also look for employees who have had poor performance, but have made a positive change. Understand what happened to cause the change for those employees. This observation can be just as important as finding the employees who have been strong all along. You may find a manager who has had a major influence on underperforming employees. If that is the case, find out what she is doing. Perhaps a certain position deepened an employee's ability to be successful. If that is the case, consider rotating employees into that position for the experience.

When you have your top performers, use analytics to look for those important trends using qualitative and quantitative analysis based on available data. In a perfect world, you might use multiple regression analysis to determine predictive models. Don’t let the absence of sufficient data keep you from moving forward. Look for overall trends and test them. This type of data doesn’t need to be statistically significant to drive results.  

To Manage or Not to Manage

The question then becomes what to do with the top talent you already have. Many organizations instinctively think to promote those top performers to management positions because of the success they have in their current role. Be slow to make promotions to management based solely on success in a current role. The capacity to manage a team successfully stems from its own unique skill set and isn’t necessarily linked to success in one position or another.  

Research from Gallup shows that about “one in ten people possess the inherent talent to manage.” Instead of promoting your top performer to a management position, it may be wiser to advance her to a higher position, like “customer service representative 2,” due to her strong performance and to increase her mentoring or other responsibilities within that new role.     

Two Things to Know about Your Top Performers

Don’t be in a rush to promote them to a management position, but hurry to understand them and what motivates them. Get in their heads and create environments that help maximize their potential. Harvard Business Review reveals that “a high performer can deliver 400 percent more productivity than the average performer.” That research also shows the number one item these top performers value is competitive compensation. By the way, I know a team that can help with compensation.  Talk to us about Compease!   

Another thing you should understand about your top performers is that they value feedback. Be sure to promote a culture where your managers are sitting with all of their employees to give feedback on a regular basis. Train your managers to provide feedback in a way that empowers their employees. Use Performance Pro’s automated reminders to help managers keep those check-ins top of mind. Peer feedback is another great way to get your top performers the insights they need to take their game to the next level.  

Watch the above video to see exactly how to use analytics tools to find your top performers and to look for trends around them. As you identify those individuals, you can begin to use predictive analytics and talent audits in your hiring practices. You find the right people and they will grow your business. They’re worth your efforts.

Questions? Would you like to share your ideas with us on this topic? We want to hear from you.

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