Duplicating your top employees

Posted by Huy Tran on

As we mentioned in the previous blog post, the ideal process of duplicating top performers starts with quantifying the characteristics of those persons. Specifically, in this step, you need to analyse your top employees and figure out which traits set them apart from the other middle and bottom performers. Afterwards, consolidate these traits into a pattern which is used for benchmarking new hires and existing employees.

Patterns matter

According to the study “Job Matching for Better Sales Performance” published in the Harvard Business Review, it is not experience, education or other widely accepted factors that count; success hinges on a fit with the job. The “Job Fit” concept explains that if an individual possesses the traits that are owned by those who have been successful at a position, that person is more likely to work well in that position. Applying this concept to our “mission” of duplicating top performers, our first and most important task is to build a pattern of successful people in a particular job. But the question is, where do we get this precious information?

duplicate top performers

There are two common solutions.

The first solution is to conduct a survey of current top performers, line managers and of course, human resources personnel. This survey should be a questionnaire with ratings or a checklist about which competencies or behaviours shall be possessed to succeed in a position.

For example, the questionnaire might ask “How often does this job require the use of numerical calculation?” and the respondents have to decide whether it is “Rarely”, “Occasionally” or “Frequently”. The behaviours rated “frequently” more often are considered more important to the job.

This method is useful in the situation of:

  • Not enough TOP performers “in stock” (less than 3 persons)
  • Ensuring the compatibility with line managers’ expectation
  • A brand new position or in a new location

Conversely, there exist a few cons:

  • Objectivity: The pattern might merely be the expectation on the ideal performers at the position.
  • Questionnaire content: The questions need to be developed carefully and scientifically to reflect the competency framework.

The second solution involves the assistance of scientific and objective assessment tools. These tools help assess the categorised performers and automatically pinpoint the critical traits for the job based on the employees’ assessment results.

This solution is recommended due to its:

  1. Scientifically objectivity: The pattern is built based on the current top performers and the assessment itself has been validated widely.
  2. Being time-saving and efficient
  3. Applicable to various organisational levels or locations

The most obvious drawback of this approach is cost. Considerable amounts for assessment implementation, product training and consultancy are compulsory if this method is to be deployed.

Information gathered from these two methods has to go through careful analysis and discussion before it can be finalised and put into effect. The Refining stage is where organisations take into consideration such elements as company’s values, culture as well as the requirements about attained knowledge to produce a practical and suitable pattern.

Applications of the pattern in duplicating top employees

It is up to you to choose which method to build the top performer pattern, but what matters more is that the pattern can be applied in various areas of talent management, i.e. hiring, training and development, and retention.

The role of “Job Fit” pattern in hiring is to help you identify which candidates have a high potential of success for the position. At the stage where you have a lot of candidates and limited time to screen, the pattern might work as a filter or preliminary round. And information about the candidates is always available anytime to proceed.

After you have finalised the pattern, conduct the same analysis on other employees to find out the gap between their current behavioural tendencies and the pattern’s requirement. Then, using these comparisons to map out development plans. A question should be raised at this point: what should be tackled?

You cannot just focus on the new hires or the middle and bottom performers and assume that top performers are going to stay with your forever. Technically, the pattern should be reviewed every six to twelve months to ensure its being up-to-date and to reflect the current situation in the position.

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