Are Your People Becoming Obsolete?

One of the dangers to both employees and companies these days, particularly in small to medium-size companies, is that there tends to be insufficient emphasis on continuous learning. The manager or production supervisor or engineer or even IT person are hard at work year after year solving problems and making improvements inside their company. Yet, unless there is a concerted effort to keep up with advancements outside of the company, they are putting themselves, and the company, in jeopardy.

When the company suddenly needs to change because of market disruption, technological innovation, or the like, those people who have been so valuable in the past can become obstacles to needed change. By then it’s usually too late to catch-up as people with the needed new skills are brought in to take the company to the next level.
I’ve seen this happen far too many times.

While it’s true that individuals need to make sure they are keeping their skills up to date, companies also need to be responsible to ensure that external trends are monitored and knowledge and skills are continually updated.

Ask yourselves these kinds of questions:

  • What trends do we see in our markets, our technologies, and the overall economy that could be indicators of change?
  • What one big change would make our business obsolete?
  • Are our people regularly bringing in new ideas from the outside?

Essential Steps for a High Return on People

Most organizations devote a lot more time and money on weak performers than they do on top performers. They think that by investing in the lowest performing people, they will improve overall company performance.

You wouldn’t do that with a portfolio of products or stocks, so why do it with your organization?

To improve your return on people, do the following:

1. Identify your best performers and make sure that they get the support and opportunities they crave. Help them contribute in even better ways that affect greater and more extensive parts of the business.

2. Identify those people with the potential to be excellent performers and provide them with the coaching, mentoring and focused development that will enable them to develop and become superb.

3. Stop investing so much time and money in weak performers. Instead, give them very clear performance expectations and deadlines. If they need specific training to be competent, give it to them, but measure whether the training actually resulted in better performance.

Also, if a manager is one of the weak performers, look to see if his/her direct reports have had any development opportunities – chances are they haven’t. Stop letting the weak manager hold people back.

Put your investment where you will get the highest return — in the best and those with the potential to be successful. Have clear performance expectations for everyone and the right processes to address poor performers when needed.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
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Contact me at: bob.legge (at)