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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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36Invest Your Time With Top Performers

Dr. William E. Hall articulated a concept he called the “Law of Parsimony.” We have only 24 hours in a day, so we cannot invest in everyone. We must choose thoughtfully with whom we spend our time. As a manager, what choices are you making now?

We often hear the maxim, “A team is only as strong as its weakest player.” This myth is repeated so frequently that many managers accept it as true. Consequently, poor performers often receive the lion's share of time and attention. Some modest improvements are gained, but what would happen if that same amount of time and attention were focused on the best performers? Simply put, you will get a much higher return on time, effort, and money.

Once again, we encounter the difference between room for improvement and potential for improvement. Counterintuitively, your top performers have the most potential for improvement. Therefore, if you want to bring about the greatest gains in your team's performance, invest the majority of your time with your top performers (and with high-potential rookies).

And by the way, who do you think your competitors want to recruit—your best people or your worst people? If you pay more attention to poor performers than to top performers, you are making those top performers more receptive to new opportunities. Does this strike you as wise? In addition to yielding the greatest performance improvements, investing more of your time with top performers also makes them less vulnerable ...

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