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Focus on lifting the 70 percent

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

When it comes to motivating employees, most would-be leaders do their best to excite everyone. But you cannot motivate everyone no matter how hard you try.

It’s better to concentrate your motivational efforts where they will have the greatest impact. Consider the 20/70/10 rule: 20% of new hires will prove disappointments and do just enough to keep their job, 70% will improve if pushed and 10% are self-driven.

All your attempts to craft a vibrant organizational culture with inspiring core values will not influence 30% of your workforce. The lowest-performing 20% don’t care, and the highest-performing 10% are already motivated from within to excel.

The trick is to identify the 70% who can benefit from motivational strategies. Devoting attention to them will produce greater gains in morale than squandering your efforts on the other 30%.

Meanwhile, explore efficient ways to shoo the bottom 20% out the door. Some organizations, especially in the tech industry, favor “pay-to-quit” programs. They might offer, say, $5,000 to subpar software programmers who agree to quit soon after they came aboard. Or they may dangle a hefty buyout to those who prove a poor fit by offering $50,000 or more on their one-year anniversary.

These amounts may seem excessive at first glance. But such investments can prove a bargain in allowing you to recover from bad hires and replace them with winners.

Better yet, you can remove those who reject the organizational vision and don’t want to be there. That frees you to motivate the 70% who truly need it without the distractions of dealing with chronically poor performers.

— Adapted from Mad Genius, Randy Gage, Perigee.

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