Why are some employees always prepared to do that little bit extra, while others go home at 5 o’ clock sharp? Who are at the forefront when it comes to trying out a new approach? How come there are so many different personalities in one group, and how can you, the manager capitalize on this?

The composition of your team
Your team is made up of different people and different personalities. Each team member has his strong and weak points. Each exerts influence on the group in which he operates. When you look at the individual in an organisation, his functioning can be divided into 3 aspects:

  1. Knowledge: the individual has sufficient (product) technical, accounting or commercial knowledge to perform his duties.
  2. Skills: the individual has sufficient skills to carry out his tasks, to make optimum use of his knowledge.
  3. Mentality : the individual has the will to devote himself to his tasks and responsibilities, and to tune his actions to the customer.

In practice, you will find that a good employee encompasses all these qualities. Discussions with directors reveal that the most crucial factor tends to be, that the employee is made of the right stuff. Based on these experiences, we can define three categories of people in your team:

    • +20 Group:
    • The percentage of colleagues in the organisation who carry the load in a positive way. They have the right mentality, the necessary knowledge AND the required skills. They dare to take initiatives, are self-assured, good listeners, can work as part of a team, and have a healthy dose of creativity.
    • 60 Group:
    • This middle group also has a good mentality, but either lacks the required knowledge or skills. This group follows in a non-negative way.
  • -20 Group:
  • This group tends to act obstructively. They lack the right mentality and/or knowledge or skills. They almost always offer resistance, have little understanding of others, are extremely defensive and suspicious, are not prepared to take any risks whatsoever, and are extremely vulnerable in their dealings with people.

Recognising +20 and -20 behaviour

How do you identify +20 and -20 behaviour, and how can you, the manager, capitalize on this?

Characteristics +20 and -20 behaviour
P.S. What kind of behaviour do you display as manager?

If you were to divide your team into 20/60/20, on which group would you focus most of your attention? Which group would you focus on least? When taking stock, it will transpire that:

  • 80 % of your employees believe that they are part of the +20 group: they are carrying the load
  • You spend 80 % of time allocated for employee interviews / attention on the -20 group. In the hope of changing their attitude; getting them on your side

The result of this approach is: The +20 group will continue until such time that they decide to leave. They feel their work is gaining no recognition. The -20 group will temporarily change its attitude, but will soon revert back to its old habits. They lack the right mentality.
The trick is to focus 80 % of your attention on the so-called +60 group of employees. This group consists of all +20s and two-thirds (40 %) of the middle group.

This is how to make the strong ones stronger. Possible consequences of this approach are, that:

  • The rear-guard leaves (find work elsewhere)
  • The rear guard joins the +60 group
  • In both cases, you are happy. The goal of coaching is to work with as strong a team as possible. The more employees join the load bearers, the happier you, the manager, will be.

Only +20s?

Can you create a team that only consists of +20 employees? Unfortunately, this can never be achieved. A person’s behaviour can change, as a result of team changes, a new position, a change in working conditions and/or personal circumstances etc. A +20 employee may end up in the middle group due to circumstances beyond his control, or, worse still, slip down to the -20 group. The opposite is also possible. Giving a -20 employee a new challenge in another team or in a different function could cause this employee to start displaying +20 behaviour. In short, your team will always have a ratio of +20, 60 and -20 employees.

Each team, each group has people who carry the load, as well as people who obstruct. This is not confined to certain functions or salary scales. Your task as the manager is to create the optimum team composition. Especially in these times of change, you depend on your ability to put together the best possible teams, time and time again. Give your champions the space and opportunity to develop. If you are able to activate the right people (the +60 group) at the right time, you will notice that you are able to proceed, step by step, in the desired direction. Remember: you will always encounter resistance. The -20 group will immediately present you with all their objections to change. Characteristically, it will always be the other person’s fault, they themselves are never the cause of any friction. Of course, remember to discuss and look for solutions, but keep it brief and to the point. Isolate negative behaviour and devote your time and attention to positive critical behaviour.

Successful businesses have the structure of the organisation and management to thank for their positive results. Managing is working with people. Use your time effectively. Focus on the right people. Make the strong ones stronger.