Above Average Performance

Much can be said about highly motivated passionate professionals who are driven to succeed through internal motivating factors. In January 2010 the HR Professional magazine printed a cover story by Rick Smith who gave some invaluable insights into transforming average performance and the passion of one’s work into exceptional work that drives organizations forward. The statistics according to Smith are overwhelming. He notes that on average professionals believe they can be 35% more productive if they were in a role that fully leveraged their unique strengths and passions. The same study by Spencer and Stuart indicates that only 5% of our current workforce is in such a role. This awe-inspiring statistics gives insight that 95% of the workforce can be more productive than we currently are.

There is an unprecedented untapped organizational potential that goes to waste yearly.  Smith goes on to say that It is HR’s most important responsibility to help individuals toward roles that fully leverage their strengths.” In doing so HR and the HR strategy brings forth many benefits to the individual workers and the organization.  The second question posed then becomes, why more individuals are not in roles that are meant for them? As was the case when we were going through school and trying to decide our career paths some of our co-workers and colleagues are still unsure what their strengths and passions are. Perhaps it is partially because they have been underutilized and not given the opportunities to shine, or maybe it is because their roles seem so stringently defined that it leaves little room for creative expression. Another scenario could be that we are not giving employees enough actionable information to proactively direct their careers. These two factors can easily derail someone’s productivity.

“By providing employees in your organization with the right tools and practices, you’ll help them quickly find and occupy roles (or make changes in their current roles) that will begin to unleash their full potential. This creates a workforce characterized by maximum productivity, high morale and employee loyalty-vital ingredients for any organization seeking to remain competitive in today’s business climate”.

Smith suggests the following guidelines in building a productive workforce:

  • Help employees identify their strengths and passions
  • Find activities to fully engage the employee
  • Accelerate acquisition of new skills
  • Help employees migrate their careers
  • make small changes in daily jobs to evoke the employees core aptitudes and interests
  • facilitate employees’ research of other roles and career paths available to them within the organization (starting the process to succession planning)
  • show employees how to conduct low-risk experiments to test possible new job activities

In looking at this information, I wonder whether a survey or a research paper can be written that analyses the productivity within HR departments compared to other departments within similar organizations. Is it likely that HR departments and functions are as productive as they ever will be? We are the specialists in this capacity and we have the tools and knowledge to capitalize on this “actionable information”. Do we do as the article suggests and take advantage of the lost productivity, firstly within our careers and then promote the same amongst our peers?

Throughout my professional career, I have had many opportunities which allowed me to innovative processes, roll out shifts in strategic direction, come up with new ways of communicating changes, and take part in high scope projects. During these tasks I strived to utilize information proactively while making a leap in personal growth, greater productivity and mitigating risk. A part of this ongoing drive is due to the encouragement of my professors, networking colleagues, senior executive team and the general culture of the business which constantly allow me to tie in concepts from the “big picture” to the organization needs.

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