Here’s something you probably already know, but haven’t formally quantified: 20% of your staff do 80% of the work in your franchise. This is not unusual. Richard Koch, author of the best-selling 80-20 Principle and recently released 80-20 Manager, has been working with the 80-20 principle for over 15 years, and the phenomenon is not only widely recognised, but evident across industries and workforces. The real trick is what you do with the information.
“Our natural tendency is to focus on the underperformers,” he says. “We want them to perform better, and so we spend a lot of time on training, disciplinary hearings and monitoring systems.”
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?
Taking 20% to 200%
“As the business owner, recognise that there are only a handful of things that you do in your day that are really important. The rest could actually be done by someone else,” says Koch.
“But those things are still very important. The same is true of your staff. Just as you need key personnel 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.
“Once you recognise who your 20% are, focus on making them 200% better than everyone else. Become a co-conspirator with them. 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. Work with them, help them to focus on doing what they’re great at, and then delegate the rest.”
Performing for success
According to Koch, by focusing on the truly productive instead of the non-performers, you will get far more out of your team than trying to raise the average bar.
“You need to identify who your key performers are, and then focus on their successes. 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?”
While not everyone achieves all of the time, a strong focus on your A-players will not only get them to perform better, but also motivate others as people respect achievement. “Be demanding on people, and clearly reward performance.
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. It’s all about the A-players.”