Get the Best People or Get the Best out of People?

by Lynnea Bylund on December 20, 2010 · 9 comments

QuickBooks Accounting Get Good PeopleGetting the best out of your people Sure, it’s important – but when we do the math, we can see it’s not nearly as important as getting the very best people in the first place.

As up and coming small business leaders, we know that hiring the right people, and helping them achieve to their highest potential, are two of our most important responsibilities. But which one is MORE important?

Source: BRETT OWENS | Accounting Today

Many large organizations spend a lot of time and energy teaching their managers how to get the most from their direct employees – while devoting surprisingly little attention to the recruitment of “A Players.”

Why is that? Perhaps it stems from the difficulty of dealing with underperformers in large organizations – no matter how bad someone is at their job, it can be very difficult to fire them “only” for general incompetency. So a manager takes stock of his or her team and figures they’ve “got what they got” in terms of personnel – so the focus turns to coaxing the most out of the existing lineup.

We small business types, though, would be toast if we operated this way. Because we know that the real key to our success is hiring the very best people. It’s not our job or responsibility to spin cycles trying to improve someone who can’t otherwise “get it done” on their own.

There’s no time for that. Besides, it’s too risky – a bad hire can be demoralizing to the entire team. It drags everyone down when you have a less competent person onboard.

What we need to do is hire the very best people we can find, and then enable our hired superstars to perform at the highest level they can achieve. This basically means providing some support and guidance when needed – but really, staying the heck out of their way so that they can tackle projects and build great things, without feeling trapped by any managerial barriers.

To illustrate the vast difference between greatness and mediocrity, let’s create an example – at a big company, let’s take an average individual contributor, and say they have a baseline productivity of 1. Now a good manager may very well be able to “coach them up” to a higher level of productivity – maybe to 1.25, maybe up to 1.5 (25 or 50 percent more productive).

It is unlikely, though, they will ever equal the productivity of a higherperformer, a great talent, who might perform at a level 2, or 3, or higher – that is, they are 2 or 3 times as productive as an average employee in the same role.

But here’s the important factor in small vs. large organizations – at a large company, the top performer is likely inhibited by the framework in which they must operate. They must navigate through significant red tape. They have a schedule packed with mindless meetings all day. And most importantly, their role is limited by their job title – hence there is ultimately a ceiling on their potential contributions.

At a small company, the role limitations are significantly less (or even better, they may be virtually non-existent!) So our superstar performer is able to contribute near their highest level of potential output – not simply up to an artificial ceiling that has been imposed on them.

So a great person in a smaller organization may be 10 times, or even 20 times or beyond more productive than an average person would be in the same role. This could be the key product person – or marketing person – or even the CEO. The bottom line is that if we removed this person, we almost couldn’t imagine our company without them (we probably wouldn’t want to imagine it!) Therefore, replacing him or her with 10, or 20, or even more people, is not a trade that we’d make.


1 Ladonna32Hartman February 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I choose: Get the best OUT OF people! … BUT I’m a romantic! LOL!

2 Catalyst QuickBooks Editor February 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Me too!

3 Carolee Trease March 5, 2011 at 12:24 pm

very good post! thanks!

4 Skinny Lina March 7, 2011 at 4:08 am

Sensible stuff, I look forward to reading even more. I say, get the best people!

5 Cherry March 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I always try for the best beople, its easier! LOL

6 Jamal Wessells March 25, 2011 at 7:15 am

thanks for posting this. looking for this all day 😀

7 Catalyst QuickBooks Editor March 25, 2011 at 7:40 am

Oh I am sure that you have, Jamal. Nice piece on article spinning, by the way.

8 Peel Me April 11, 2011 at 1:52 am

Are all of these articles written by you or did you hire a ghost writer? Love the Entrepreneur male-female mind piece.

9 Catalyst QuickBooks Editor April 11, 2011 at 2:15 am

All original. Thanks.

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