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Lately, it seems that every other day another major organization is announcing they will be laying off employees to make necessary financial cut-backs. From 3M (as just announced yesterday) to tech giants like Spotify, Google, and Meta, many are having to make countless employees redundant. Of course, no one wants to have to lay off or fire employees. But times are getting tough. Your organization, too, may need to be able to out-perform your competitors.

And sure, it might be a quick-fix to fire lower-performing employees and replace them with new ones. But this is by no means a sure-fire way to ensure success. Plus, mis-hires can be costly and time-consuming. Instead, you’ll need to measure the successes of your current employees and coach and train them based on their required skills and attitudes needed. 

As well, when it is time to hire new team members, you’ll need to be able to use benchmarks to measure the potential success of candidates to most accurately replicate your top performing employees.


What Makes an Employee a Top Performer?

In an article from Harvard Business Review, Winnie Jiang notes that those who are calling-oriented—as opposed to work-oriented—tend to look like a top performer, though this is often found to be not actually true. This is because those whose aim is having a job with high fulfillment and life-satisfaction rates tend to take on tasks that make their work seem like it has high pay-off.

Nevertheless, as Jiang notes, these workers “can often be overly idealistic rather than effective, and they can be critical of organizational practices in ways that don’t lead to success.” Of course, in an ideal world, everyone would be equally passionate about their work. But realistically speaking, as Jiang recognises, it’s not necessarily those who are passionate about their work who are the most “successful” per se.

What’s worse is that even managers themselves fall into the habit of associating calling-oriented workers with top performance, as managers tend to have a bias towards these kinds of workers. That’s not to say that an employee who works long hours isn’t working hard (although we’ve all seen that one Seinfeld episode). Rather, working long hours and volunteering for projects should not be the only criteria considered to determine your top performers.

Instead, you should be measuring your employees’ performances based on:

  1. The quality of their work (not just their numerical KPIs)
  2. Their willingness to grow and continue learning on the job
  3. The quality of their customer service and/or collaborative work
  4. Their abilities to problem solve (both independently and collaboratively)

Of course, these are just general areas that are often indicative of high performing employees across various industries. In some cases, you may need to ask another professional or search what others say online about their top performers in the field.


Replicate Top Performing Employees in Existing Employees

Once you have your criteria for determining who your top performing employees are, you can then start approaching these three methods for replicating that success in your organization. Our first two methods involve improving the processes and skills of existing employees based on the expertise or skills of others. After all, improving the performance of existing employees is beneficial not only for saving costs on severance packages and new-hire costs, it’s also beneficial for employee retention.

As previously mentioned, externally sourcing top performers is not necessarily always a good idea. Boris Groysberg, a Harvard Business School professor, notes in a podcast for The Harvard Business Review that when top performers move from one place to another, they basically leave all those things behind.”

Groysberg continues on to say, “smart stars are trying to recreate this with a new employer, but if you think about relationships, mostly relationships are built on trust. And to develop trust takes a lot of time, so that’s why you actually see them underperforming for a significant amount of time. So you have this mentorship and development, that’s the key of making somebody into a star.”

So, how do you make current employees stars?

Method Number One: Train to Improve Skills

Our number one method for finding star performers in an organization is making them. That is, if an employee has the willingness and the right soft skills, they may just be exactly who you’re looking for. You may just need to help them with their hard skills.

Start by letting them know you see great potential in them (surely their Packfinder results told you their potential from the get-go, though!). Then, encourage them to sign up for and offer to pay for any coursework, exams, seminars, or workshops offered online (or in-person during working hours). This is not only telling but also showing that you believe in this employee’s potential. They may just need that little bit of support to reach it!

If you’re not sure which courses to sign them up for, get them to do some digging. Allowing them to take initiative can also get them to show leadership and allow them to feel like they have a say in which courses they take.

Another option may be to hold group problem solving sessions, where a leader from the department comes up with some case studies and all team members have to work together to find solutions. This works best when a top performer is in a group with lower performing employees, so the other employees can learn on the job from the top performer.

Method Number Two: Review and Coach Processes

Our second method comes from sports training, which is also often used in sales, marketing, and customer service industries. It’s the good old tape and review coaching process. This can involve recording role playing practice sessions or real client-employee conversations (with the client’s consent, of course!). Regardless how it’s done, the main objective is to allow the employee to  watch their own work alongside a manger or team leader to review their current processes.

After reviewing their current processes, an employee’s coach (a manager, supervisor, or fellow employee) may break down step-by-step where the employee is doing well and has room for improvement. As well, a great way to encourage improvement without making the employee feel ashamed or embarrassed about their performance is to practice alongside them.

This can take place as taking turns role playing customer service interactions or sales pitches. This can also be shadowing or working alongside a top performing employee to see all their tips and tricks. You may notice even a few hours of working together that some of the top performer’s best habits seem to rub off onto the other employee.

The best part of both of these methods is top performers encourage more top performers’ growth and loyalty. As Groysberg recognizes, stars love working alongside other stars. So, once your team begins to grow and encourage further growth in one another, the entire team will likely want to stick together.


Replicate Top Performing Employees in New Hires

With all of the above said, new hires are inevitable (hopefully! After all, this usually means growth or maintenance that means the organization is staying at least relatively afloat).

So, let’s say you’re looking to expand your organization and want to hire someone who works just like some of your top performers within a given department or role. You’ll probably want someone who has similar or complementary work styles, someone who is able to meet the job-specific goals, and has the job-specific personality needed to succeed in the role. And if your top performers are indeed top performers because they check all of the necessary boxes for the same or a similar role in the organization, they may just be the perfect role model for your incoming employee(s).

Luckily for us, we’ve got just the tool to benchmark these top performers, and even the automation to find the candidates who match these benchmarks!

Method Number Three: Hiring Externally With Benchmarks

To most accurately replicate the top performing employees in your organization, you’ll first need to examine your top performers. Remember to always measure your top performers based on the 4 aforementioned areas of an employee’s regular work practices to determine where they are in relation to your other workers.

Once you’ve determined who your top performing employees are, ask them to complete Packfinder, our soft skills assessment. You can send them an invitation from your very own Workwolf Business account. This assessment is online, free to use, and quick to take. And once your employees have finished their Packfinder assessment, their results will instantly be available for you to access and review.

As well, of course, this is where you turn your top performers into your benchmarks for future employees! Once their values within Packfinder have been set, you can use those values as benchmarks to automatically sort through countless candidates. And don’t worry, our software makes this filtration process automated, so let us take care of the rest.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Find out how true it is for yourself! Sign up for your free Workwolf Business account here and start benchmarking your top performing employees today. And if you’re not sold on it yet, click here for a free demonstration!


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