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The Other 90%

Don’t Assume Your High Performers Won’t Leave

Your employees may be searching for a new job right now. You might be thinking, “no, that can’t be true. My team is happy doing their job, why would they leave? My team generally receives high reviews, shows up on time and fulfills the job requirements. Everything is fine!” Are you sure? Because 90% of your time is spent dealing with only 10% of your people–your underperforming employees. That means 90% of your valuable time is consumed by negative performance issues and corrective actions.

As a supervisor/manager we thoroughly document negative behavior because we want to help those employees thrive. Maybe that documentation becomes part of a performance improvement plan to help coach or counsel that 10%. Wonderful! But what about the rest of your people? What kind of time, rewards, and meaningful documented feedback are they receiving? Shouldn’t we be focusing on the 90% of our employees that are performing well (that we’d secretly like to clone)?

I found myself in this position as a stressed-out ER nurse manager of a Level III Trauma Center. I was very frustrated with the process we had in place to reward, recognize, and track ALL performance. I knew my employees deserved more from me since they worked so hard for their patients and the organization every day. So I decided to provide all of my employees consistent, transparent, immediate feedback on their performance through a tool called Guardian Tracking. I wasn’t expecting this software to bring my department so much value and so much success, but was pleased when it did. I would often hear managers state, “I shouldn’t have to tell my employees ‘thank you’ for doing their basic job requirements”. Yet, we would all agree that feedback is one of the most valuable things you can provide employees.

In any relationship, communication is vital. Your workplace relationships shouldn’t be any different. Creating a healthy workplace that encourages appreciation and transparent, consistent communication throughout every level of the organization develops trust and security for its people. Employees want to know where they stand with their supervisors, how they are performing, and that their hard work matters. Your employees want you to notice them. If you don’t, they will begin to feel undervalued or unappreciated.

What I noticed when I shifted my focus to the other 90%:

Increased Engagement – Keeping staff engaged with an organization’s mission or vision is vital. We, as managers, approach engagement through this idea of setting goals that align with our organization’s vision. Yet, how valuable are these goals if we aren’t reminded of them or if they aren’t easy to access? Goals aren’t intended to be a “set and forget” task. Using Guardian Tracking, goals became active and stayed at the forefront of employees’ minds, as well as my own. It provided two – way communication between the employee and their supervisor, showed the progress they had made toward their goals, and reflected the encouragement they needed to keep moving forward. The documentation was all in one place and easily accessible.

Increased Retention – A quick note to say, “I noticed your kindness and empathy towards that difficult patient; you demonstrated our organization’s core values and I greatly appreciate it!” can have a lasting effect. In the Joypowered podcast episode 85 Lorraine Ball correlates a toxic workplace environment with a place that lacks recognition. When we take time to thank one another it inspires positive behavior and makes employees feel valued. I experienced this in my department. Documenting, storing, and sharing my gratitude in Guardian Tracking decreased absences, increased peer-to-peer compliments, and decreased turnover.

In fact, Harvard Health Publishing states: “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Increased Accountability through Clear Expectations – When low performers are not held accountable, high performers get frustrated and start to question if their hard work even matters. Guardian Tracking not only held me accountable to address low performance but prompted me to recognize any progress toward improved performance. The system would remind me when to close the loop on all performance efforts. Expectations were documented and completely transparent for the employee to log in any time to review a policy or to be reminded of what goal we had set to reach their success.

I found this to be true: when I documented on all my employees’ performance consistently throughout the year instead of just an annual evaluation, I was creating a workplace culture where people didn’t want to leave. Employees felt valued, appreciated, and gave their best effort. Consistent, transparent, immediate performance feedback works!

If you let 10% of your employees–the underperformers–consume the majority of your time, you risk causing the other 90% to feel undervalued and unappreciated. Recognize and track ALL employee performance, rewarding the behavior you’d like to see continue.

Are you ready to shift your focus to “the other 90%”?

Emily Abshire, RN, BSN. Emily is inspiring leaders to bring out the best in their staff. She spent over 12 years as an emergency room nurse and manager where she developed a passion for developing and coaching employees. Now she represents Guardian Tracking, a software used for tracking employee performance in order to provide positive recognition, consistent feedback, and increased employee retention.