A Compelling Time for Topgrading: Managing Performance and Managing Your Budget

TopgradingLeading companies maintain their competitive advantage by hiring the best and brightest employees and then establishing a culture that focuses on advancing and retaining these “A” players. In his book Topgrading, Bradford D. Smart outlines the methodical approach to identify, select and develop top talent as a deliberate business strategy. When executed, this strategy allows companies to outperform the competition and thus impact the bottom line in a positive manner. If topgrading is an unarguable framework for business success, then there is no time like the present to reevaluate the talent pool and make sure that a company’s investment in human capital creates a positive return and enhances the overall success of the business.

There is nothing easy about topgrading!  In fact, Smart states that the structure and discipline needed to ensure that individuals gain and hold that talent edge is not for the “fainthearted.”  Thus, the systematic approach needs to flow from the CEO through all leadership and into every rank and file member that maintains value to the overall success of an organization.  Employees who are not performing value-added work should be evaluated through objective measures. The approach cannot be one that relies upon subjective evaluation. There must be clearly defined and measurable ways to identify the top performers. In addition, there must be opportunities to engage performers who have designated potential in meaningful learning and coaching opportunities to ensure that they reach their full potential.   

Organizations must develop and incorporate a systematic approach to talent acquisition and management.  This may require a complete overhaul of the current recruitment process as talent acquisition requires a comprehensive screening process that incorporates assessments and multiple levels of interviews to ensure applicants are obtained from reliable sources and candidates are screened with proficiency. All employees must be consistently evaluated using performance management tools that contain core and cultural competencies that clearly establish a base line of expectations regarding character, professionalism and job responsibility. Employees must be fully engaged in their own development and receive continuous constructive feedback from superiors and peers. Establishing a structure for increased engagement, leads to increased performance.  According to a 2010 Gallup Consulting analysis, companies with high levels of employee engagement have 3.9 times the Earnings Per Share (EPS) rate than similar industry groups with lower level employee engagement. This is yet another compelling reason to top grade and manage performance with diligence.

As a business owner, there is no time like the present to reevaluate your human capital. The largest budget line for any organization is salaries and benefits. The changing landscape of the economy and increasing governmental regulations should compel any organization to begin the journey to human resource optimization which remains as one of the greatest resources of competitive advantage. Employers should focus on reviewing the price of maintaining the status quo or assessing the performance level of every employee to ensure a positive return on investment. Increased spending is inevitable so ensuring that there is a return on this large investment is critical. Maintaining your competitive advantage is the reason a company stays in business.

Written by Greta Cairns, Director of SCI Atlanta Operations

Posted May 21, 2013 by scicompanies in Employment Law

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