January 20, 2005
Excerpts: Contagious Success - Part VI
Individual performance is important, but it is affected by the environment. You can put your very best workers in the wrong environment, and they will not do their best work.
It is important for companies to develop high-potential individuals by providing training and mentoring and by helping them plan a career path. But if you want to get the biggest return on your human capital investment, make sure these individuals are in a high-performing workgroup. In our study, we found not only that talented individuals thrive in high-performance environments but such environments also increase the likelihood of B players becoming A players.
Even stars need to be able to function well in the workgroup. If you have people in your company who care more about looking good than helping the group look good; if they do only what will advance their own careers; if they define winning as beating their teammates, they will destroy the high-performance environment. High-performing workgroups accept that we are in this together. They realize that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
To maximize performance, the leader needs to leverage the skills of group members by playing to their strengths not only their functional skills but also their natural abilities. Who is the go-to person for evaluating downside risk? Who is best at seeing upside potential? Who is the one who knows the historical context of a current situation? Taking advantage of differing skills enhances the groups ability to collaborate effectively.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.