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Monday, October 10, 2011

80/20 Rule

In my last post, I identified key behaviors that a stand-out team leader at a production facility demonstrates.  One of these is the ability to get rid of the poor performers.   In an AIDT (Alabama Industrial Development Training) class I facilitate, one of the principles that seems to resonate most with participants is the 80/20 rule.  This rule, stemming from an economic principle developed by Pareto, emphasizes that 80% of your problems as a leader at work come from 20% of your people.  In essence, we end up leading by exception by spending all our time focusing on the “slackers” which, in turn, demotivates the 80%.  
Many find it hard to deal with poor performers.  Confrontation isn’t enjoyable for most, so we avoid it.   This avoidance leads to increased performance issues in the 20% because we don’t fix it when it starts, or even before it starts, and we end up neglecting those that deserve our attention the most- those that deserve to have their positive performance developed and rewarded.
So, how can we deal with this issue? The AIDT class emphasizes several things:
1.       When someone demonstrates a performance problem (showing up late to work, not meeting performance goals for example) address the problem immediately in private with that person individually.   Don’t bring it up to the entire team and don’t overlook it.
2.       View the progressive discipline process in place at your company as a way to actually motivate good performers by using it as a mechanism for getting rid of poor performers.
3.       Spend time rewarding and developing the 80% 80% of your time.  When you deal with the 20% immediately, you have time to do this.
Questions to consider:
1.       Is 80/20 accurate for your organization, or is the percentage of slackers less?  If it is less, what have you done to foster this? 
2.       How have you dealt with your “slackers” and what are results you have seen in doing so?

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