Do You Have Fizzlers or Sizzlers?
By Jay Forte
workplace, employee performance follows the the Pareto Principle
(the 80/20 rule) – 80 percent of employees fizzle, 20 percent of
employees sizzle. The 80 percent of employees who fizzle are are
weak and disinterested performers who do just enough not to get
fired. The 20 percent of employees who sizzle are passionate and
engaged performers, committed to making a difference. How can any
organization be successful if only a small percentage (20 percent)
are actively driving service responses and results? The better
question is why does this happen?
percenters are employees who are well matched to their jobs;
they are intellectually connected to their work (they have the right
talents and skills) and are emotionally connected to their work (it
activates their passions and interests). Intellectual and
emotional – this combination creates a high-performing employee; it
empowers an employee to be confident, committed and engaged; it
encourages an employee to think and act like an owner. Attracting,
hiring and retaining “great fit” employees is a critical
responsibility of today’s managers.
connection (right talents and skills) is required in today’s
workplace. For an employee to be productive, he or she first must
not only skills, but must also have the core talents and thinking
required to do the particular job well. This encourages employee
confidence, competence and commitment. The more this happens, the
stronger the employee’s response. Employees who work in jobs that do
not match their talents and skills feel incapable … and then fizzle
connection (passion) is actually a more important component of
employee fit and performance. Research presented in the book
Human Sigma by Dr. John Fleming and Jim Asplund, supports that a
dissatisfied customer and a satisfied customer buy nearly the same
volume (this seems contrary to rational thinking but their studies
prove it to be true). A loyal customer, however, buys significantly
more than a satisfied customer. The only difference between the
satisfied and loyal customers is the loyal customer is
emotionally connected to the brand, product or organization.
This emotional connection makes all the difference. The same
principle follows with employees. Satisfied and unhappy employees
(80 percent of the workforce) perform at nearly the same level –
average; loyal employees (20 percent of the workforce) perform at
significantly greater levels. And the reason for the increased
performance is the emotional connection the employees feel with
their jobs and managers. Employees who work in jobs that activate
their passions, values and interests become emotionally connected to
their work and to their performance.
Today, it is a
responsibility of management to ignite employee performance. This is
done by ensuring an intellectual connection and an emotional
connection. This is the formula for customer and employee loyalty.
So, let’s see it
in practice. Here are several employee performance or attitude
problems that can be addressed by either reconnecting the employee
intellectually and/or reconnecting the employee emotionally. Review
your employees and determine who is an eighty percenter, and then
create a plan for how to move the employee to twenty
Performance problems – set 1:
constantly threaten to quit, are critical of others, blame
achieve their basic job description requirements, other
performance expectations or continually miss deadlines.
Employees do as
little as possible and show no real effort in any aspect of
significantly more praise, affirmation and attention.
constant instruction, guidance and hand-holding.
If these are
happening in your workplace, your employees do not feel capable
or confident in their work.
Consider: Reconnect employees intellectually by
assessing employee talents and realigning employees to jobs that
better match their talents and skills. Use a talent assessment
(there are many online) to identify natural strengths and abilities.
By aligning employees to roles that use their best attributes, they
feel more connected, competent and engaged. For example: Employees
whose talents are more social are better matched to roles that put
them in front of people (sales, service) and not in a cubicle.
Employees who are more analytical are more comfortable and capable
with details and procedures (accounting, engineering) than with
people. Employees who have strong controlling talents (they like to
be in charge) are more effective in leadership and solo performance
roles. Employees who have strong supportive talents are more
effective in management, team and collaborative roles.
Knowing your employee’s talents is the first step in matching
the employee to the right job. Fit is critical to activate an
employee’s intellectual connection.
Performance problems – set 2:
little or no passion in their work, workplace or team.
constantly unhappy, critical or negative.
little or no enthusiasm; they are visibly bored.
detached, disconnected and are the last ones in and the first
ones out each day; they do only the minimum and need constant
If these are
happening in your workplace, your employees are not finding a
personal connection to or passion in their work.
Consider: Reconnect employees emotionally by
customizing their jobs around their talents, values and interests,
and in things that are meaningful to the business This actively
involves their passions in a way that adds value to the company. For
service employee who also loves to write, may feel more
emotionally connected to his job if he can also prepare the
company newsletter, write about the company for trade journals
or host a column on the company intranet.
employee who is also great at organizing, may feel more
emotionally connected to his job if he can organize a company
event, party, meeting or product announcement (not part of his
A driver who
also loves to teach, may create and host a program that reviews
driving regulations, how to better load a truck and how to drive
defensively for all new drivers.
soon-to-be-retiring manager may feel more engaged when paired
with younger employees to mentor, coach and guide them in their
A workplace of sizzlers has employees who are connected
intellectually (they have the right talents and skills) and
emotionally (they are passionate) to their work. They become
max-performers because they feel capable, confident and passionately
connected to what they do. Focus on these two components to revive
any employee to passionate-performance status; your results depend
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