Recognizing your top employees allows you to improve your hiring and selection process, recognize which factors contribute to individual success, and train for those factors across your organization. However, recognizing what constitutes success can often be difficult, especially in large organizations where teams often succeed as a whole.
Identifying top performers inside your organization means establishing a system of benchmarking and performance modeling, so you can recognize what counts as success, and track who meets or exceeds those requirements.
Benchmarking is an easy way to establish baselines for performance. In most cases, benchmarks should be a combination of internal and external data, based on existing performance and performance standards for your industry. If you don’t have this data, you do need it. Your internal benchmark should be based on:
- What does performance production look like in measurable output?
- What is median performance?
- What is minimum performance required to meet goals?
- How does that performance compare to other similarly sized organizations in your industry?
If you can draw a line in the figurative sand to indicate where performance should be, you can measure how and when people meet those expectations.
Performance models take a deeper look at what people are doing, why, and how. This allows you to judge performance and talent based on more than simple production. Why? Production can be misleading as a measure of desired output. For example, if your team lead is producing a great deal, he’s probably not doing his job.
Similarly, if a communications head is turning around a lot of copy, he’s probably not doing his job. In both cases, the actual job for the individual isn’t about technical production, it’s about helping others to do their jobs.
Performance models allow you to identify other factors that contribute to organizational performance in that role, including soft skills like communication or self-motivation. This allows you to track who’s simply doing their job and who’s actively contributing to future success by exceeding it.
A good performance model requires having benchmarks or performance standards in place. Afterwards, you can communicate expectations, establish tools and training for individuals to meet those expectations, and set up processes to monitor how people meet or do not meet those standards.
Performance models include profiles of expected or quality performance, rank everyone against expected performance, and make it very easy to see who excels and how. For example, if two people are excelling in the same role for completely different reasons, you can collect that data and see how it impacts the individual and their ability to perform.
Identifying top performers allows you to look at the traits, behaviors, and qualities that allow them to succeed. You can then utilize that data in recruitment and selection processes, when training and working on development, and when promoting individuals into new roles, because you already know what success looks like in that role.
It also allows you to better identify who is a top performer in your organization, so you can reward, promote, and continue development for those individuals.