Stars and Stones
In every team you’ll have stars, who overachieve and improve the performance of your whole team. You’ll also have stones, who struggle to meet the minimum performance goals you’ve set for them, and who drag the team back. Managing these individuals is critical to maintaining and improving your department’s performance. As always measurement is vital, but when it comes to this kind of people management there are other intangibles to consider. If your stones are not meeting minimum performance requirements, you’ll need to manage that directly – work with them to ensure they’re trained and capable of meeting the standards you’ve set. If they can’t do the job, you’ll need to move them on – possibly to a different role, possibly out of the company altogether.
But if your stones are meeting the minimum requirements, they need a different focus. I recommend looking at how your team interacts. If your stones are bringing energy to the team, improving morale with their attitude and engagement, then you can accept their performance as long as it meets the minimum standards. They don’t need to outperform on your targets if they’re making your other staff enjoy coming in to work.
Your stars need to be challenged, and they need to feel like they’re both being recognized and that there is an opportunity to advance. They don’t outperform because they like you. They’re telling you they want more. Give them responsibility for documentation and training, to help your whole team gain the benefit of their experience and wisdom. Ask them to help you find ways to improve performance on areas that you’re struggling to improve. And make sure you’re thinking about what’s next for them – it’s possible they love the role they’re in, but it’s likely they’re already planning to move on. If you want to keep them, you need to have a plan of your own that will capture their interest.
In all situations, it’s vital to keep in mind that each person is completely unique. Treat each individual with respect and give them enough time to understand what they would like to achieve and what they’re working for.