Why 9 out of 10 businesses default to focusing on the wrong group of people! Are you unknowingly part of this statistic?

An essential part of developing talent within any organisation relies on focusing your time and effort on the right group of people.

Most people have heard of Pareto’s 80/20 rule or used it in business development for analysing which customers contribute the majority of sales and profits, so 80% of profits are from 20% of customers. However, this rule can also be applied to developing talent and unlocking people potential.

Here’s how it works:

20% of people are your top performers. 70% are the heart and soul of your organisation. 10% are disruptors or under-performers.

When you think about the three groups of people, where do you think most people get sucked into spending their time, effort and resources?

Not where should they spend their time, but where do they?

Most leaders and managers spend most of their time and effort dealing with the under-performers – the bottom 10%.   

So, where should your time and effort be spent? – On the top performers and high achievers – the top 20% and on the potential within your hearts and souls, the 70%.

 Let’s take a look at the three categories in more detail:

 The 20% High Performers

This group of people probably deliver consistently, year on year and need little in terms of management. They will have a great attitude and know what they need to do to exceed their targets.

A small increase in your focus with these individuals will have an exponential uplift in terms of the results they will deliver and the incremental gains for your organisation.

The challenge is that high performers can sometimes coast in 5th gear.  The opportunity is that they always have reserves in the tank and sometimes all they need is encouragement to shift them into 6th gear.  Therefore, more emphasis is needed on securing and retaining high performers.

The 70% – Your Heart and Soul

The heart and soul of your team are enormously valuable to your organisation. This 70% represent a significant percentage of your employees and applying Pareto’s principle specifically to this category gives a further level of insight:

  • 20% of the 70% are future top performers

20% of these people have the potential to be your future top performers. What are you doing to identify, nurture, and develop this talent pool?

A word of caution: keep your eye on the future top performers to prevent them from becoming sliders. During the course of the year you might see differential performance as their motivation levels fluctuate or external distractions dilute their focus and drive. Spotting this is key as leader. Knowing when you need to invest quality time to refocus and get them back on track is essential.

  • 40% of the 70% are the heart and souls

40% of your heart and souls will deliver results. They need managing more closely, training, regular contact, focus, and tactful goal setting – but they will hit or get close to their objectives.

  • 10% of the 70% are potential disruptors

Watch out for the 10% of your hearts and souls who are potential future disruptors. The people who do just enough. You question their attitude, commitment, and values. Do they really want to be here? Do they really want to be part of a team?

The 10% – The under-performers and disruptors

Managing underperformance is challenging and the temptation can be to continue to invest in this group of people. After all, the average cost of recruiting a new employee is around £30,000, then there is the training, time and effort you have put in, so you naturally want to see a return.

However, we know from the above analysis on the 20% high performers and 70% hearts and souls, that you will get a far better return on investment from focusing your effort on these groups.

Now, you can apply this principle.  Look at your people. In any group of 10 individuals you will have on average of two who are high performers,  seven who are your hearts and souls and one person who is underperforming or is a disruptor.

Where are you focusing your time, effort and energy? 


Click here for information on RISE, our personal growth programme designed to develop talent, unlock potential and unleash success.

Click here to watch Senior Pti Worldwide Consultant, Danny Gray, talking about this important talent development subject.


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