In this world of coddling the squeaky wheel to avoid offending anyone, walking on eggs trying to avoid breaking any, a mistake that is often made by managers is to try to please and motivate everyone on staff, by going out of their way for low-performers in the hopes of improving their contributions. This can be costly. Managers can unwittingly jeopardize productivity of an entire company or division by trying to dole out company resources, including the manager’s own personal time and attention, in an effort to treat everyone equally in all respects.
By the mere fact that there may be low-performers and high-performers on a team, or in a division, or in a company, there is inequality in the workplace–an inequality of worker output.
It’s the high-producers, the heroes among your knowledge workers, to whom you and your company owe its greatest potential for success, progress and productivity. Success does not come from directing valuable resources to low-producers. So, where you do have high-performers, do everything you can, as a manager, to enable and nurture them, including directing a DISPROPORTIONAL amount of your time, resources, and company assets to them to help enable them to produce even more.
Give your high-producers everything you can. Spend as little as possible of resources, including your own time, at trying to be politically correct towards, or trying to avoid offending, low-producers and poor-performers.
Be respectful and treat everyone with a high level of dignity. But don’t carry the problems that low-performers can create. And don’t try to solve their problems for them. Don’t confuse solving problems for low-performers with the notion of enabling. Let them solve their own problems, but be sure to make it possible for them to do so. Be an enabler and ensure the system also provides the means and tools to enable them, if they are sufficiently self-motivated. And be consistent.
“Managers”, as the guru of business consultants, the late Peter Drucker advises, “are responsible for results.” In business, results almost always means growing the bottom line. Though it is your job to produce results, to continuously increase profits, you can’t do it unless you have a team of high-producers.
High-producers are the ‘enablers’ of managers.