Are you 20, 70 or 10? Joe Lavelle is a management consultant, personal coach and author of the widely acclaimed, Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail. He refers to his book as “the employee handbook that your employer hasn’t given you,” and in it is some great advice for those looking to move their careers onward and upward.
In Chapter 3, “Partnering with Human Resources,” Lavelle takes a page from the playbook of John “Jack” Welch, who was the Chairman and CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001. Lavelle notes that under Welch, GE was always searching for more effective ways to evaluate the organization, because he (Welch) understood the importance of legitimate feedback on employee and corporate growth.
Welch’s “vitality curve” was a tool he used to separate the staff, top to bottom, into three unique groups: Group “A” were the top 20%, and they were rewarded with stock options, promotions and bonuses. Group “B” were the middle 70% of the “vitality curve.” This group didn’t deliver the most brilliant or inspired performances, but Welch considered them vital since they were the majority and were typically steady and reliable.
The bottom 10% made up Group “C.” According to Lavelle, “Welch believed these low-producing team members were more likely to enervate than energize, and GE regularly and efficiently counseled out anyone that fell into this class.” Some accused Welch of cruelty here, but he believed his approach was in the employee’s best interest. He reasoned that they would be better off finding a field that would more aptly suit their skills, abilities and interests.
Why You Should Care
You may be asking yourself what this has to do with you and your career. After all, no such policies or grouping are in place where you work. So why should you care?
What you should realize is this: There is not a company of any size on this planet that does not use this exact system in some form or another. They may have different names for it, or they may not refer to it at all. But they do use it.
If you’re not sure which group you fall into, it may be time for a little self-evaluation. If you discover that your performance level makes you a “C” player, don’t fret.
How to Boost Your Vitality
Following are five steps you can take right now to get into the “B” club, and possibly even Club A!
1) Speak to a supervisor before it’s too late. Letting someone know that you are aware that your performance may be less than stellar is a great first step in elevating yourself off of the chopping block. Your supervisor has a vested interest in keeping the staff together, and they are rarely interested in having to go through the effort required to fire you and hire someone else.
2) Follow Lavelle’s advice by creating a 90-day plan for yourself, than share that plan with your boss. Now, make a new first impression by meeting or exceeding all of the objectives on your plan.
3) Zero in on the parts of your job that inspire you. Then, make yourself the go-to person for that particular chore. If there isn’t anything that inspires you, be willing to do whatever it is everyone else seems to avoid and do it with a confident attitude.
4) Showing up early and staying late is an easy one. The problem is some people actually believe that no one notices just because they have given up on urging compliance by them. Believe it. They know, and they notice, and it may be all the ammunition they need when the time comes to cull the herd.
5) Associating with members of the “A” and “B” group is a great way to learn by observing. Emulating the actions of those you aspire to be like will almost always lead to greater success.
Like the man who has noticed his pants are fitting a little too tight, owning the problem is the surest way to agree to the solution.