All these years, I’ve believed you should segregate your employees into performers and non-performers, focusing on the performers to challenge, recognize and develop them with your limited resources. But my thinking has evolved since reading the AWSJ article, Why Managers Should Stop Thinking of A, B and C Players, where Peter Cappelli posits “Putting employees into performance boxes hurts the workers – people’s true talents and strengths often get ignored. The notion that good performers are always good contributes to a halo effect.” In other words, a performer in one thing, may not be in another. One idea Peter suggests is that we should instead tie bonuses on a project rather than an overall annual basis.
My thinking has evolved, so I guess you can teach an old dog, new tricks. We need to still identify performers, but don’t assume they are in all areas. Instead we need to identify performers on a project-by-project basis or on a skill specific basis. This may require the supervisor to think more deeply about how to ID and develop performers. They should anyway!
He also suggests, “Supervisors must be active about managing subordinates. The evidence is overwhelming that it does matter how we set expectations, assign projects, hold people accountable for performance, provide feedback and so forth.” Unfortunately, line managers have tendency to do it as an after-thought.