(Time to read this Blog is about 3 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My biz quote of the week:
    “Technology makes it possible for us to continuously improve our business.  But, we must also have the passion and desire to improve…plus a sense of what ‘better’ might look like in every part of our business.  The technology itself is useless without the vision of a better future and the passion to get there.”
    …Donald Cooper.
  1. My apologies. I ‘messed up’ in my January 27th  The featured article in my January 27 blog, ‘With Whom Will You Have Lunch This Year?’, was a re-run of a blog I wrote last year at this time.  It got an excellent response, so I thought to repeat it, as an annual reminder.  Great idea, except for the fact that this year most of us are, or should be, in some sort of Covid-inspired social distancing or lock-down and we shouldn’t be randomly inviting people for lunch.
    What was I thinking?  My apologies!  It’s still a good idea…just not now.
  2. A little kindness and encouragement from you can make a huge difference in someone’s life.  Here’s a note, just received from a fan and blog reader, now a retired Air Canada senior pilot.
    When I joined Air Canada years ago, I loved talking to people who came to visit the cockpit. One day, on a flight to Europe, a teenager came ‘up front’ and started asking all kinds of questions.  I explained how to operate my ‘panel’, showed him the route we were flying and offered all kinds of other explanations.
    Fifteen years later, I received a ‘thank you’ note from him in my company mailbox with a picture of the route map I had given him all those years ago.  He was now a pilot with Air Canada.”  

So, who will you encourage today?

Now, to this week’s important topic:

The 4 types of employees in your business…and how they’re different: 

Businesses are typically made up of a number of different types of employees from ‘super-star’ top  performers to toxic trouble makers.  They all need to be managed differently because they’re ‘wired’ differently.  Below is a look at four different types of employees that has been helpful to a number of our Biz Coaching clients.

  1. Super Stars: This is typically a very small percentage of your total labour force.  They’re ‘wired’ differently.  They have the ability and desire to outperform.  They love doing their best and constantly search for ways to improve.  Super stars come in three varieties.

    a) Those who are incredible at doing what they’re doing and want to keep doing just that. For whatever reason, they don’t want to take on more responsibility or climb up the organizational ladder.  Or, just like in sports, because of their skill set or their personality, they may be outstanding as a player, but would be a disaster as a coach or manager.  The business world is littered with companies who turn their best salesman into their worst Sales Manager.  It’s a completely different skill set.
    Make sure these top-performers are regularly and appropriately thanked, rewarded and celebrated for their contribution…but not in a way that makes everyone else feel inadequate.
    b) Super stars who can and want to move up the ladder. Create a career path for these folks.  Coach and mentor them.  They’re your future.  Give them lots to do; challenge them with interesting projects.  Follow up with them…but don’t micro-manage them.
    Find out what they want to achieve in their personal life…and make a commitment to help them achieve that.  Thank, reward and celebrate them all the way…but not in a way that makes everyone else feel inadequate.  Ask their opinions and listen to what they say.
    c) Potential super stars. These are the folks who haven’t yet had the opportunity to prove themselves, but you see a special ‘spark’ there that can be nurtured.  The ability to spot and nurture these potential super stars is a special gift.  It’s like being a talent scout in sports or entertainment.  This is one of the most valuable skills that any business owner or manager can develop within themselves.  It starts with knowing exactly what you’re looking for.
    Create a career path for these folks.  Coach and mentor them.  Give them lots to do; challenge them with interesting projects.  Follow up with them, thank, reward and celebrate them along the way.  Ask their opinions and listen to what they say.  Find out what they want to achieve in their personal life…and make a commitment to help them achieve that.
    So, who are your super stars or potential super stars and what specific things will you do to engage, challenge, motivate and retain them?  Don’t be threatened by them.  They’re going to help some business be extraordinary.  It may as well be yours.  ‘Yes’, some of them will go off and start their own business some day, but while you have them, use them and appreciate them.
    Note:  Beware of ‘toxic super stars’.  Some super stars believe that they’re so special that they don’t have to follow the rules or the business culture.  Toxic super stars are a huge problem.  Either they get on the team…or they move on.

  2. Journeymen: Good at what they do, team players, steady and dependable.  Either they don’t want to climb the ladder…or they wouldn’t be good at having more responsibility.  These folks might be on your front lines or at some level of management.  They’re typically a large percentage of your total workforce.
    While they may not be candidates for advancement, it’s important that they continue to receive training, coaching and encouragement to do their job better, especially when technology or systems are changing.  They also need to be thanked, rewarded, celebrated and listened to keep them engaged and keen…and for you to learn from them about how to do things better. One excellent way to acknowledge the value of their knowledge and contribution is to have them mentor new employees.
    Who are your ‘journeymen’ and what specific things can you do to engage, honour and retain them…and to learn from them? 
  3. Underperformers: Underperformers come in two varieties. Those who can be rescued …and those who can’t. 
    a) Underperformers who can be rescued. You have a big investment in these people.  If they can be rescued, get on with it.  If you’ve not created clear job expectations, provided the right training or given them the tools, empowerment or authority to do the job, fix it.  My insightful Business Tool #B-21 on ’13 reasons for staff non-performance…and whose fault are they?’ can be most helpful in determining the problem and how to fix it.  To access this tool, Click here.
    b) Underperformers who cannot be rescued. If you have non-performers who simply cannot be rescued, stop wasting your time…and theirs.  Get your documentation in order and set them free to find more suitable employment.  Do it respectfully…but do it.
    Who are your underperformers?  What will you do to determine if they’re rescuable or not …and then take the appropriate action?
  1. Toxic employees: Get rid of them ASAP.

    These are the people who are wrecking your team, poisoning your culture and driving good employees away.  Whether they have an unfortunate personality, have a grudge against the company and are trying to sabotage you…or are sociopaths (I’ve seen them all), they have to go.  Get your documentation in order and pull the trigger.
    Note:  By the way, just because someone disagrees with you some of the time doesn’t make them toxic.  They might be smart, engaged and passionate about improvement.  In fact, they might be super stars!   Always encourage ‘respectful debate’.     

So, there you have 4 different types of employees.  Do you know ‘who’s who’ in your business or department…and are you working with each of them appropriately?  It’s one of your most important jobs as a business owner, leader or manager.   

That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

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