One might think that because certain companies have big budgets and larger-than-life brand identities, that they naturally attract the best and brightest talent from around the globe. While this may have a small impact, research by Bain and Company shows that - despite companies like Google, Netflix and Dell being up to 40% more productive than other organisations, they start off with a similar percentage of star talent.
In his new book, Bain and Company partner Michael Mankins explores the methods and strategies that are used by these companies to help employees perform at their best.
Get rid of “organisational drag”
Organisational drag can be defined as “status quo” processes that waste time and energy. These processes are often kept in place because things have “always been done this way”. In many cases, these processes are put into place because an organisation has quickly grown in size, and has started to overcomplicate areas and decisions that used to be streamlined.
At typical organisations, much of this time and energy wastage comes from what the Harvard Business Review terms “excess management” - overly managing and checking up on employees, whether via expense claims, time-sheets or any other bureaucratic methods. Their research showed that up to $3 trillion dollars of output is lost each year due to the practice of excess management.
As Mankins illustrates via the example of Netflix, “there is no expense policy. The only policy is, ‘Act in the best interest of Netflix.’ The company is telling employees, ‘We assume you are not here to rip off the company, and we’re not going to put in place processes that consume human capital, waste time, and zap energy.’ They tell employees to assume their best judgment.”
Focus on team excellence
Instead of happening upon talent and spreading it throughout the organisation, top companies such as Google intentionally determine which roles NEED A-level talent and which roles can be filled by less than star players. Through determining these business critical roles first, the company actively seeks the highest qualified and most agile employees for the roles, and aligns their strategy/recruiting budget accordingly.
The same thinking applied to roles also applies to teams. Putting together an A-level team to accomplish a hugely important project is far better than trying to make ALL teams excellent, or spreading top talent between different teams. In fact, the mission critical teams are able to be far more productive in quicker time frames, often with fewer people and more streamlined processes.
Invest in inspirational leaders
Inspire your leaders and allow them to inspire your employees. This is the message from Mankins, who quotes research that shows how an inspired employee can be almost 125% more productive at work than an employee who is simply satisfied.
It all comes down to the leaders within the organisation and how effectively they can inspire their “followers”. What needs to be kept in mind is that inspirational leadership techniques can be selected for as well as developed via the use of talent assessment, workshops, and other techniques. Investing in this area may seem expensive in the short-term, but will have a huge long term impact in the efficiency and effectiveness of employees.