Few folks undervalue themselves in the workplace. They can mistake confidence for capability and often reinforce that by saying how great they are.
Interviewees will tell you how perfect they are for the role; how their skills and experience dovetails your job description, even though they’re barely out of university or college with little real experience.
Hertzberg is widely known for his two-factor theory but I prefer another of his truisms which goes along the lines of: 10% of your team will not be a loss if they depart; the middle 80% do a fair amount of work on a given day; and, if you’re lucky, 10% will overachieve and push the organisation on.
Eric Paley describes this brilliantly. He splits that middle 80% into B and C performers. Summarising again, C performers are somewhat productive with sufficient coaching, B performers think they’re A performers but simply (though not overly common) understand their objectives well and deliver them competently.
Your A performers are the diamonds. They aren’t content with how it is today. They feel the pain of an unsolved problem – they look for those problems and constantly strive to find the fix. They’re restless and never fully happy with performance. No matter how good things appear on paper, they could ALWAYS be better. They’ll obsess over the end user and the end game whether that’s a patient, a player, a client or a system.
As Seth says, “a few people, very few, work to relentlessly raise the bar. She’s the one who over delivers on projects, shows up ahead of schedule, instigates, suggests and pushes… Raising the bar is exhausting… Success is not about speeding up the assembly line as much as it relies on individuals able to create leaps forward.”
A performers are happy to retool the whole process, in fact they’re constantly looking to – most others will want the status quo to continue. Nothing is taboo, nothing is off the change agenda. In fact the opposite: change MUST happen.
The challenge then, especially for small businesses is not to be blinded by the overconfident self-bravado and promotion of C and B performers. Having identified them, work on improvements but spend resources courting new and existing A performers – they’re the true superstars of your world and they’re where the future lies.
[No, unfortunately you don’t see A performers in action on The Apprentice.]