In almost every organization you can categorize employees as being weak, average, good, very good and then you’ll have your superstars. Do you admire those people who are the best of the best or do you find you resent their excellence. What does that say about you?
It’s reasonable to expect that employers strive to hire the best, train their existing employees to be the best and reward the best. After all, not many entrepreneurs set out to set up a company with a goal of hiring sub-par employees and encourage them to strive for mediocrity.
Superstar employees work with a philosophy that goes, “What more can I do?” while poor employees work with a philosophy that goes, “What more can the company do for me?” If you are the kind of employee that goes about your work striving to be better – whatever better translates to in the course of your work, you like where this blog is going. On the other hand, if you’re the weak link in the chain, just doing the barest required of you to keep your job, you’re likely no longer reading, or shrugging your shoulders while muttering, “Whatever…”.
In order for organizations to thrive, the people working in those same organizations have to thrive. Why shouldn’t an employer want their employees to be the very best they can be? The best of these organizations put people in positions of leadership where they can positively influence others. These leaders assess talent and when they identify people’s needs, they design training for those people as a way of giving them every opportunity to improve.
Let’s face it, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Your job-related weaknesses present you with a choice; improve or be moved. I think the best fit is when a company’s needs and an employees skills, interests and experience fit those same needs. If you find yourself terminated from your employment due to performance issues, it may be in the most positive sense, that the fit just wasn’t there. You’re skills might be adequate, but your enthusiasm for the work wasn’t there. You may have had the right attitude, but the expertise required to perform requires someone with a higher education, more experience etc. There’s nothing to be ashamed with in that kind of departure.
Say we look in on two people working in an automotive department performing oil changes, checking brakes etc. When the cars are rolling in both are quite good at performing their jobs. It’s when there are lulls during the day, 20 minutes here and there that we see a difference. While one employee makes himself busy cleaning his tools and replacing his diminished inventory of parts, the other employee is making himself busy brewing a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. Sure there’s no cars, but which one is the employer getting better value from? One’s an all-star, the other an average performer.
Go to any mall and you can stand in the centre court and observe staff in stores performing very differently. Some staff may be idly standing at their registers chatting away about their lives, their problems, their plans for the evening. Another employee will be seen to be folding clothing, straightening up what customers have mixed up, dusting, getting replacement stock on the floor, maybe calling customers whose special orders have arrived. Again, you see the average and the superstar.
Would it be fair to dock the pay of the employees who are standing around doing nothing to improve the business? Would they feel hard done by and complain, “What do you expect me to do? There’s no customers in the store!” (I’m not advocating docking pay of such employees by the way, just citing that possibility). Such employees not only don’t add to the value or reputation of the store, they actually detract from it. Potential customers are put off by self-absorbed employees who feel their continued conversations are of more importance than acknowledging customers.
Imagine your company announces it’s all-star roster if you will; the best of the best. You come to work and hear the announcement over the PA system: “From Accounting, a perennial superstar and winner of the employee-of-the-month award 2 month’s running, Mary Anne. Give it up for Omar in sales who as a rookie improved on last weeks sales by 7%! Way to go Omar!” No one is going to make an announcement that goes, “Congratulations to Juanita whose sales have flat-lined for the sixth consecutive week!”
Now of course we don’t all want the limelight, we don’t want the fanfare. No issue there. However, employers do want the employees who perform the work they pay them for to be fully engaged, interested in improving, striving to excel both as employees and as individuals.
Let me wrap up with a suggestion. If you aren’t striving to be the best you can be and have flat-lined, take action now to save yourself. Re-ignite some passion for the work you do and invest yourself in training and improvement. Alternatively, look for other work that will stimulate you in a new and different way so you can excel one way or the other. This other work might be with a new company or in a new role.
Every decision you make carries consequences. If you fail to better yourself, you may find you’re not only left off the all-star roster, you’re dropped from the team.