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Squeeze The Toothpaste Higher Up The Tube

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Jan G. van der Hoop, President of HiringSmart™ — our go-to partner for help on how to hire more effectively, will be contributing to this blog on Fridays.  You can reach him directly at 905-338-7961 or

If you continue to squeeze the far end of a tube of toothpaste, the law of diminishing returns will kick in pretty fast. The first couple of squeezes might yield some results, but then not much more will happen.

Performance management is kinda like toothpaste.

In most organizations, performance distribution falls in a traditional bell curve, with 16% in the low performer category, a similar proportion in the high range, and the lion’s share – 68 % who are performing adequately – in the middle. As managers, we often find the majority of our time, effort, resources and patience are commandeered by the 16% at the bottom. And when we work there, the return on the investment is generally marginal at best. It’s exhausting and unrewarding work.

By far and away the biggest returns are to be had by coaching and developing the top performers (who are most often left alone so as not to disturb them) and the big bulge in the middle… even a small improvement by 68% of your workforce will yield a result that will be hard to match by just working the crowd at either end of the curve.

The Coach’s Tip – Move higher up the tube.

  • What shifts do I need to make in how I manage and coach each of my middle and top performers? How can I raise the bar in a way that challenges and motivates each to grow and strive for more?
  • Which of my lower performers really have the potential to move into the middle category, and what will it take? How can I best support the others in transitioning into a role where they can be successful?

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The following comments are for Engagient's Employee Engagement Seminar for Managers

We were trying to get the buy-in from our Management team, prior to rolling out a new Performance Review Process and move the management style away from the industrial age style in an attempt to get our employees more engaged.  For the last 45 years we have been working under the old world style of management and old habits die hard.  The Engagient seminar on Employee Engagement was exactly what we were looking to install at Perfect Plastic Printing.

Don presented the information with a passion and energy that impacted every participant.  The information presented represented the results of research and science as opposed to just one more consultant’s opinion.  This made the buy-in so much easier.  The combination of instruction and small group exercises kept the class from getting tired and kept the information geared more toward our business as opposed to generalizing information.  Don was extremely knowledgeable on the subject and this was apparent when he answered participant questions.  He kept the conversations light and humorous, but had you believing that getting your employees more engaged is crucial to surviving in business today.  The feedback from the Management team on the seminar was all positive. Don was one of the best presenters that we have experienced at Perfect Plastic Printing.

--Carl Valenti
Director of Facilities
Perfect Plastic Printing
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