I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with a long time friend and former colleague who is an Executive at an Insurance company in Hartford. He asked a question around how to create a culture of high performing individuals and teams. In my attempt to come up with something witty that would get him to think, I said the first thing you have to do is stop your people from competing against each other.
I advised him to get away from rating and ranking employees against each other. That works when you are trying to downsize a population but at some point even that approach year over year has diminishing returns. I told him that he should stop marginalizing real opportunity with a stacked deck that assumes there is benefit in making comparisons that are usually so subjective you end up stagnating creativity and true growth in the workplace. I suggested that he base the benchmark for evaluating employees on a set of competencies that rewards creativity, execution, independence and results. Reward people who have the capabilities and competencies that will help the organization succeed and then realign or move out those that cannot add value.
He asked me for a proposal on how I would actually make that happen – So much for my weekend!