Managers recognize only top performers at their own peril

Last month we looked at how much time managers should devote to poor performers and concluded that you can't simply rely on superficial judgments and rules to dictate any plan of action. The topic got me thinking about the other extreme amongst personnel in organizations, the top performers, and what managers must understand when working with them.

Throughout our 40 plus years of experience working in organizations, we've observed far too many managers and leaders who only recognize top performers. In fact, it's one of the "fatal errors" that we warn managers to be alert to in our management training program. Why can this be such a costly error? The hardest workers in most companies are usually not the top performers. (For the most part, top performers do so well because the work comes easy to them!) Instead, the hardest workers in a company are often in a middle group of employees, wedged between the top performers and poor performers who, for different reasons, tend to receive the lion's share of a manager's attention.

Within this 'middle group', you may have the person who just started or the person who is trying hard to produce but isn't or the person for whom it's a daily challenge to develop the habits necessary for success. These people want to achieve and they deserve recognition also. It's a vital leadership input to sustaining their effort, without which there's no way they can ever attain success.

What sort of recognition should these employees receive? It doesn't need to be anything extravagant. Sure, your employees would love a bonus or some extra time off, but they'll appreciate something as simple as a handwritten note, something that lets them know that you appreciate the hard work they're putting in.

What are you doing at the moment to show appreciation to your people? Are you only recognizing the top performers? Be sure to recognize this 'middle group', because depending on how they perceive your attention to the effort they're putting in, they can have a big impact on the organization's success.

Posted: 5/17/2011 6:31:02 PM by Andy Klein | with 0 comments
Filed under: leaders, leadership, management, managers, performers, recognition
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