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How to manage your ‘average’ employees

Noel Forster, Flowers Gallery

In a typical company there is a cross-section of talent – say, 10% high performers, 10% of under-performers and around 80% in the middle. While much of management’s time and energy is spent on the extremes, the challenge of finding the right “people strategy” for the average employee often gets lost in the mix.

So what can you do to redress the balance for the stalwart performers who are doing the day-to-day stuff well enough without standing out? Anthony K. Tjan provides some pointers on the HBR.org Blog Network.

Tjan says it is essential to address the issue because, if average employees lack appropriate guidance and management attention, it can create a lack of understanding regarding who has the real potential to move up the ladder with the right nurturing.

What’s more, the author says, this situation can have a negative effect on those actually capable of making a difference, creating retention and motivation issues.

Tjan proposes two simple ideas to help the situation. First, he insists the practice of conducting regular and specific performance feedback is essential. Just as important is
ensuring that the person given the task of reviewing performance is both capable and respected.

Second, Tjan advocates “Fit Test Points” at regular intervals in a person’s career. With performance reviews, as long as someone is getting the job done to a reasonable standard, the situation is viewed as acceptable. But that view is biased in favour of the interests of the company. A "Fit Test Point", however, considers the employee's best interests and how he or she can work most effectively in the organisation.

The Challenge Of The Average Employee
Anthony K. Tjan