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The truth about building teams is that every one of your hires is not going to be a rockstar from day one. There will always be employees who close more deals, bring in more new business, and manage relationships better than other employees. But instead of giving up on those employees who don’t immediately rise to the top, here are four ways you can help those average employees improve their performance:
- Focus on other areas of performance, not just the numbers. Sure, salespeople are expected to meet their quotas; it’s their job to drive revenue for the company, after all! But concentrating solely on numbers can make average performers excessively anxious about hitting their targets and less focused on how they can improve their overall performance. By focusing on other areas of performance, you can help build their confidence by praising them on areas where they excel, as well as identifying where their performance needs improvement.
- Pair your best employees with your best managers. Sound counterintuitive? It’s not: according to a 2012 study by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business the increased productivity you’ll get from pairing your top employees with your best managers will be much more valuable than the effort those managers would spend trying to boost the productivity of mediocre or poor performers. And once the top performers are even more productive, your average performers will have to push themselves harder to keep up with the new, higher standards within your team.
- Give them regular feedback. Even if your average performers seem complacent with remaining average, they may simply not know how to improve. Even if you do give them helpful, actionable feedback in their performance reviews, they may not know how to apply this to their immediate, daily work. By giving them regular feedback and working with them as a coach instead of a manager, you can help them find small, relevant ways to improve performance. And when your employees see you are willing to work with them and are invested in their success, they’ll feel more valued and thus be more likely to work smarter to stay valued.
- Give them tasks in their realm of capabilities. Especially at a new job, lots of employees will try to impress their managers and coworkers by plugging away at arduous tasks that are out of their realm of capabilities instead of simply asking for help. Perhaps they fear they’ll be fired once their manager realizes they can’t do the work they’ve been assigned, or maybe they’re embarrassed or too shy to ask for help. As a manager, it’s your job to make sure your employees are capable of doing the work you’ve assigned them. Even if they seem to comprehend the task, have them repeat back what they’ve been asked to do so you can make sure they fully understand. Then, when they build up their confidence, you can assign them increasingly difficult tasks and more responsibility.