Who do managers spend most of their time coaching and training? Do they give it all to their best performers or their worst performers? In most cases, the answer is the worst. Is this the right way for managers to be spending their time?
Every effective manager wants all of his or her subordinates to be successful; of course they want all the members of the team to perform to the best of their ability. But there are only so many hours in a day. If managers spend all their time coaching and bringing up performance of the worst, they run the risk of losing valuable time that could be spent with the best. Is this a negative expense?
Top Performers Can Handle The Most Challenging Work
Top performers can handle the toughest work, so give them the toughest work. Here’s an example to illustrate this. Think of a production facility with a number of different crews. Some are excellent performers, and some are not so good. Do you put your best Section Manager in charge of your best crew? Or do you assign them to the crew that needs the most help? Of course you would want your best Section Manager in charge of the crew that needs the most development. However, the breakthrough thinking is that to improve an organization, the best managers should be given the most challenging work, so they can bring those areas up to the point at which they’re equal to the already-high-performing areas of the organization. With adequate support, top performers can handle the most challenging work.
The principle same applies at the level of you and your management team.
How you choose to manage your team (read: “how to ensure the best performance overall”) has everything to do with how you divide your time between the best and the worst. As aforementioned, the best performers can often handle the toughest problems. They are trusted to deliver, and as a result, they can do the most difficult work. As a manager, keeping a close eye on these issues requires making sure high performers have the support and coaching they need to succeed and that you can be there to remove roadblocks when necessary and help in a value added way.
So Who To Spend Time With? It’s a Question of Balance (In Time and Assignments)
For most managers, effectively tackling this issue becomes a question of balance. It’s important not to forget the worst: They need support and tools to grow and improve. At the same time, it’s equally important not to ignore top performers who need your support and expertise to tackle the more challenging assignments.
There is a caveat to bear in mind. There is a tendency to want to assign projects to the best performers on the team. They become your “go-to guys.” After all, if you know there are one or two people who will deliver strong results, it’s easy default to giving them the most assignments. That strategy, however, sows resentment within the team and, more importantly, denies training opportunities to your “middle-of-the-road” employees who, given the chance, may thrive. How managers balance time and assign work is critical. Do it right and it will reflect equity, recognition and trust.
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