If you are a business owner, business consultant or leader within your company, knowing your talent pool is as critical as knowing who your competition is. A typical question we ask prospective clients is “do you know who the top and bottom performing 10% of your employee workforce is?”

When we ask this question we get a range of interesting reactions ranging from total confusion to some level of confidence that you have thought through this question more than once. Every business owner should know the answer to the question since your response can impact whether your business is successful or not. The top performing 10% of your employees drive your company’s sales and overall results, the bottom performing 10% constantly holds your organization back. 

Your top 10% need to be challenged constantly. If not, they become bored and may be lured away by a competitor. They are like a thoroughbred racehorse and need intentional development, care, and attention to perform at their optimum. If they are not constantly pushed to do their best, they could become a retention risk.

Conversely, the bottom 10% of your employee base may do just enough to get by and stay off your radar screen as a leader or manager. They add minimal value and can actually become “cancerous” in that they can bring down the performance of your entire organization if they aren’t dealt with quickly.

This week we will discuss the top 10% of your employee base and in our next newsletter we will discuss the bottom 10% of your workforce. The top 10% are critical to your organization’s success and really drive and differentiate your business from the competition. The top 10% of your employees are also highly sought after by your competition! Yes, they are very marketable and are probably known within your industry.

So, how do you keep your top talent loyal to your company and do all you can to retain them? First, you must know who the top employees are! If you don’t you are probably throwing money and other rewards at everyone in the organization. We have seen this before and this is highly ineffective. When it comes time to give salary increases or bonuses you spread them around to everyone evenly (like that PB&J sandwich your Mom made for you!) because you don’t know who the best and worst performers are!  This methodology does not offer proper recognition for the exceptional performance of your top 10% and will not help you retain them.

Once you have gone through a process to identify your top talent you have to pay them well and continue to give them better than average increases annually. This may sound like a stretch for the pandemic business environment, but keep in mind that pay is only the starting point for retaining your top people. When employees leave a company, pay is not usually the reason most leave. Usually a bad relationship with their boss, no career path, or an overall lack of challenge in the job are much higher reasons for top performers to exit. 

It is truly amazing to ask leaders about openly talking with top employees about what they want in their jobs. The responses vary widely, but many times managers are afraid of what their top people will say.  Typically, key employees will talk more about where they want to be in 3-5 years with the company than asking for more money. The conversation can actually be enlightening and shouldn’t be feared. 

Most top employees get bored easily and are looking for their next adventure. If they can’t find that with your company, guess what? That’s when they update their resume and LinkedIn profile to start their job search!

If this article has scared you a little bit, that’s good. If you don’t know who your top and bottom performers are and don’t know how to start the process of knowing your talent pool, give us a call. We are experts in performance management solutions, talent identification, and talent retention.