In our efforts to get the most out of our employees, we often make a mistake: We spend too much time worrying about poor performers and not enough time focusing on the best and the brightest. The real secret to making the biggest impact rests in investing in your best performers and ensuring they become even better.
This rarely happens in the workplace because we have a tendency to view our best players as so good that they are often left on their own. We have to think about our top talent differently. If someone is tremendously good, we should ask, what can we do to make him or her even better? If someone is an A student, we must explore what we can do to make that person an A+ student. The recipe for greatness is generally not found by taking a C student and turning him or her into a B student.
While we fail to embrace this kind of thinking in the office, we regularly see it on the football field. For example,Vernon Davis, arguably the best tight end in professional football, wowed fans a few weeks ago when he incredibly kept his feet inbound in the end zone for a one-yard touchdown catch just five seconds before halftime. How’d he do it? He credited practice sessions with running back Frank Gore. I loved how Gore explained this in the San Jose Mercury News: “We’d be on the sideline when the defense was practicing. I’d say, ‘You want to be great. Let’s do this.’ Then I’d make crazy throws — low, high, one-hand (catches), behind him. We’re just trying to get better.” Making the best players even better is always the way to win the game.
As the adage goes, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I’ve seen this attributed to Benjamin Franklin and Lucille Ball, but I especially like this version from my friend and former IBM boss, John Frandsen: “Find a busy person and try to break them.”
Go find your best people, inspire them and ask more of them. What you will receive in return will astound you.