Two Performance Models

There are two important performance models at work in every organization:

  • The highest performer – This is the model that management hopes everyone else is aspiring to emulate:  “The Super-star”
  • The lowest performer – This is the model that half the employees want to make sure that they are performing at a slightly higher level – “Good old Harry”

Why are these two models important?  Here are some considerations:

The highest performing model:  (the Super-star)

  • These are the people who are usually selected for promotion
  • They have higher performance appraisals with greater compensation and bonuses
  • Expectations are set for all others based on their performance
  • Standards are established for everyone else by way of their results
  • Achievement-oriented workers tend to aspire to this level of performance


The lowest performing model:  (Good old Harry)

  • The lower performers think, “As long as I’m better than Harry, I’m safe!”
  • The organization’s results will be impaired with too many Harry’s
  • Once Harry is terminated, someone else becomes the next “Harry”
  • How Harry is terminated is important to others.  Lots of questions and uncertainty. Unexpected? Was there a “Deal”?  A Timeline?  Support?  References?
  • How was it communicated?  Is he retired?  “Spend more time with his family?”  What’s the real message being sent by management?

So what does it all mean?

  • Figure out which performance model track you’re on as perceived by management – Super-star or another Harry?
  • If management allows too many Harry’s, more employees will gravitate to the lower model and will never be a Super-star.  They give up trying.
  • Some organizations, as a matter of practice, will cull the Harrys each year to purposely raise the standards and expectations of the remaining staff
  • As more of the lower model employees are reduced in number, a new category is formed as a step just below Super-star, called “Star”.
  • When you only have Stars and Super-stars, performance accelerates
  • The more Stars and Super-stars the greater the organizational results
  • If your function has Stars and Super-stars, but the corporation is not doing well, the top performers will leave.  They will “fire” the company for a lack of performance and opportunity.  Firing a company can accelerate an individual’s career somewhere else.


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