In The Workplace

In almost all cases, many workers don’t have the right motivation and cannot contribute their share of group work. There will always be fast-trackers, average players, and mediocre contributors in a team. How would you ensure that all of them contribute positively to group work? — All Encompassing.

When things go wrong, it’s natural for many of us to look at the direction of mediocre members of a team. Is it the right thing to do? Maybe. But the truth of the matter is — you only have to revisit your organizational “bell curve” to discover that you can do more, if you focus your attention on those who occupy the middle or about 80% of the total workforce.

They’re called the average workers or B players whom you can easily manage by giving them the right direction and proper motivation. With constant attention with the active help of their line supervisors and managers, average workers will be able to accomplish something of value to the organization.

It’s simple math. Imagine your organization has 100 workers. There will always be a top 10 (A players) who will do their best even in the absence of close supervision. Usually, they take care of themselves as long as the targets and standards are clear. Even a stupid manager can handle them and vice versa. They will perform up to their full potential for so many reasons, many of which are known only to the incumbents.

On the other hand, there will be a bottom 10 (C players). Regardless of what management does, they will do nothing to improve their performance short of avoiding being kicked out of their jobs. They’re there to waste management time. And they’re not expected to stay long in the company for long. They’re a bunch of incurables as they may have been suffering from personal problems which management can’t solve.

Simply put, the bottom 10 workers are disengaged and are biding their time to go elsewhere. You don’t have to resort to the extreme sanction (firing) as they will self-destruct in due time, unless they commit a major offense against the company or its employees sooner than you expect.

Therefore, it’s a matter of focusing your attention, effort, and time to the average 80 workers (B players). You can benefit a lot if you can change the ways of these middle-of-the-road workers with the help of their line supervisors and managers, assuming of course, that they have what it takes.

The B players could benefit a lot from management monitoring and coaching. If you do just that, you can achieve more than if you focused your attention on the C players. Doing this will help generate worker acceptance of change, which will go a long way toward guaranteeing its successful implementation. They may not be easy. But what I’m saying is — they’re worth a try.

Now, here are some considerations when you plan to make changes with your B players:

One, get all workers and their managers to be involved in performance management planning. The more people, the better as they may be able to pinpoint problems that we’re not thought about before. It is easier said than done, but not exactly impossible, even when you have more than 2,000 workers. This can be easy, if you have a periodic employee survey that tells you what’s wrong with the company’s policy. It can also be supplemented with other means like town hall meetings and other similar strategies.

Two, ensure a continuing line of communication with all employees. This covers all A, B, and C players. This is to make sure that your management is not seen as favoring only the fast-trackers and the average players. Rely on the feedback of everyone. Sometimes, you can get valid input from C players. And if those issues are corrected, you’ll be surprised at how they will change for the better. But again, 10% is 10%. Still, don’t forget the B players who comprise of the majority of the workforce.

Three, identify the root cause or causes of employee resistance, if any. Sometimes, it boils down to certain management policies that are more foolish than rational. This happens when management is overcome by its command-and-control mentality that it creates layers and layers of constricting measures. You will only know this if you encourage the people to express their feelings in an objective manner. Otherwise, people go and create a situation where the workers will resort to the grapevine to express their feelings.

Management’s own attitude toward change will help either to sell or sink a program. This happens with change that comes from top management. Solutions may appear to be easy on the surface, but the task of implementing change is loaded with problems that only people managers with an open mind can overcome.

Of course, management can’t do all of these. It must rely on the participation of their line supervisors and managers. Just telling all A, B, and C workers won’t get the best results. It must be coursed through their line leaders who are the first line of offense and defense for top management.

ELBONOMICS: Individually, we are poor. Together, we are rich.