Don’t be scared to hire great employees. This sounds like simple (and obvious) advice, but many business owners are scared of being upstaged by their employees, and as a result they shy away from hiring over-achievers, when that’s exactly what they should be doing.
Here’s something you probably already know, but haven’t formally quantified: 20% of your staff do 80% of the work in your business.
Known as the 80-20 principle, this is true of many things in your business: 20% of your sales staff make 80% of sales; 20% of your clients account for 80% of your revenue.
And yet we consistently spend time on elements that are not essential to the business.
“As a business owner, only a handful of your daily tasks are important to the running of the business, the rest are operational duties that take your time, but it’s not essential that you do them,” says Richard Koch, author of the best-selling80-20 Principle and recently released 80-20 Manager.
The same is true of your employees. Your top performers are generally doing a myriad of tasks that someone else could be doing, freeing them up to concentrate on the most important elements of their positions.
“Just as you need key personal to take the load off you so that you can focus on the more important elements of your role, so you can assist your key employees to focus on the most important aspects of their jobs.”
Are you hiring the best of the best? Do you allow them to focus on key areas and become top performers?
Does your company reward over-achievement? Top companies perform because of their A-players. Does your business do the same?
Support from the top
According to Koch, once you recognize who your 20% is, focus on making them 200% better than everyone else.
“Our natural tendency is to focus on the underperformers,” he says. “We want them to perform better. We let the top-performers get on with it, and put all our energy into getting a little bit more from the non-performers.”
However, according to the 80-20 principle, whether you pour energy into the non-performers or not, the majority of work (in quantity and quality) will still be carried out by 20% of your staff.
So why not make sure those employees are the most equipped, rewarded and supported instead?
Become a co-conspirator with them, says Koch. “Help them to shed the elements of their jobs that either aren’t essential for them to do, or that they don’t do very well,” he advises.
“Work with them, help them to focus on doing what they’re great at, and then delegate the rest.”
According to Koch, by focusing on the truly productive instead of the non-performers, you will get far more out of your team than by trying to raise the average bar.
“You need to identify who your key performers are, and then focus on their successes,” says Koch.
“What are the things they do really well? How can you get them to do more of those things? What elements of their positions can be handed over to someone else?”
For Koch, demanding the best and clearly rewarding achievement sets the right tone for a successful business.
“Hire to have a great team, and be clear that you hire over-achievers, but when someone is not a top-performer, don’t put effort into them that you could be putting into someone who will do exponentially more for the business than they will,” he says. “It’s all about the A-players.”