Blog Article Written By: Ray Attiyah, Chief Innovation Officer
Obstacle #1: Spending Too Much Time with Draggers, Too Little Time with High Performers
One of the top seven mistakes leaders make is spending a disproportionate amount of time with the lowest performers. At Definity Partners, we call these employees “draggers.” They represent about only 10% of the workforce. The next employee tier is called “followers.” These individuals represent 80% of the workforce. Finally, the top-tier is called “performers” and they represent the final 10% of employees.
Performers are often complainers. They are frustrated that their efforts have gone un-noticed or under-appreciated. They are confused as to why they are being ignored. They’re mad at the level of performance of their peers and they can’t understand why low performance is being accepted. While you may not always like their attitude, it can be a clue that the leaders in the company aren’t effectively doing their job. Frustrated performers usually traverse one of two paths. They either take their talents elsewhere or they give only what they need to give as opposed to what they are able to give.
Leaders distinguish themselves from managers by inspiring performers to a higher level. By spending more time developing top performers rather than correcting draggers, leaders can raise the organizational standard. It’s a chain reaction. Performers improve, and as the name insinuates, the followers will move up the ladder to close the gap. It then becomes apparent to the draggers that if they don’t improve, they will be forced to leave.
So why do so many managers get stuck with the draggers? It is because managers are trained problem solvers. This is one of the hardest behaviors to change on the way to becoming a leader, but they have to understand what they give up in their campaign to improve the draggers. They sacrifice the opportunity to develop inspired talent that will raise the level of the entire group.
Here’s an exercise. Write down the names of all of your top performers. If you had to start a new organization and could only take 10% of your employees with you, who would they be? Have a conversation with these individuals and ask them what their frustrations are. Analyze what their answers say about the organization, about you. Then, go out and remove as many of those obstacles and frustrations as you can.
If they see you remove those frustrations and make improvements quickly, they will have confidence to bring new ideas that improve the organization. When you have a confident, talented group of individuals striving to reach higher levels, you have a stronger, more innovative company. Instead of being down in the weeds with the draggers, your time will be freed to focus on improvements and growth opportunities that are more invigorating personally and more important to your company.
So, one more question to answer. Are you a manager or are you a leader? What do your daily interactions tell you?