These blog posts take an interesting question that I was asked in my daily Live Q&A Podcasts on Facebook and give it another look. To listen to the entire Q&A, check out the podcast version on iTunes or Soundcloud for free access anywhere, or on my Facebook Page.

The Question: “How can you keep a balance between focusing on helping your employees that are underperforming vs rewarding the top performers in your team? Which should go first and why?”

None of us have as much time and attention as we’d like in the workplace, and so it’s a temptation to ask these sorts of “either/or” questions of ourselves because they help us manage our time. But this tempts us to ask these sorts of questions when they don’t apply, and the above is a classic example. The answer is:

You focus on both, just in alternating time periods or in a more “measured” way

Motivation, training, and recognition should not be one-time events, they need to be continuous. When you think about them in these terms it helps you to address ALL areas over time. Sure, we’d all like to address everything NOW, but that isn’t reality. Let me break down the two concepts above:

  • Time Period – Incentivize and recognize different things in different time periods (months, quarters, etc). For example: you can recognize top line sales this month (your superstars), and recognize month over month improvement next month (an incentive that lends itself to underperformers). Rolling recognition and training out over time helps to make it manageable for the time starved Executive.
  • “Measured” – We’re talking the 80/20 principle here where you’re looking to address the 20% of your employees that will give you 80% of the benefit. This could mean working with only your Top-5 performing employees to recognize or get best practices from. Or it could mean working only with the bottom 10% of employees who are most open to learning. The reality of time and attention deficit requires you to make these non-ideal distinctions to be able to move things forward.

Be careful of “either/or” questions. There is a place for them, but there’s also areas where they aren’t necessary if you’re willing to find a compromise.

To ask me questions on leadership or management, e-mail me at [email protected], and I would love to have you subscribe to the "Mentor Minutes Podcast" on iTunes or Soundcloud. I know it’ll be something that makes leadership easier for you.