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You're Good, Not Great (Adjectives to Use When Determining If Someone is a Star)....

It's getting ready to be performance review time in a lot of your companies, and if you're like most HR pros, you've got a group of managers who really don't want to tell the people who work for them that they're average.

But telling a lot of people they're average is about the only way to get true separation between the stars and role-players and get the stars paid accordingly.  So one of the keys is to help your managers understand where the bar is.

Here's a running list of adjectives you can use to help your managers grade "good vs. great."

Examples of Identifiers Signaling "Meets" Behavior (Expected!): Quality, Accuracy, Timeliness, Respect for Others, Integrity, Communicates Effectively, Accountable, Pride-in-Work Product, Team Player, External Locus of Control.

Examples of Identifiers signaling "Exceeds" Behavior (Differentiators!):  Proactive, Creative, Innovative, Leads By Example, Seeks Greater Responsibility, Self-Motivated, Solution-Oriented, Always Learning, Takes Chances, "Zooms," Internal Locus of Control, Builds Teams.

The focus of these lists?  Really to say that doing more (make more widgets, answer more calls, file more reports) of the same isn't great performance.  It's really good performance, but not great.

If you want to be great, it involves being innovative and giving a lot of discretionary effort that others don't provide.  Of course, that assumes the discretionary effort produces results, but ask yourself - when was that not the case?

Use the list to find a better way of asking managers if the performance they're looking at with any employee is truly great - or simply pretty good.  


Scott Atkins

The dilemma I run into is getting people to balance being really good at the core deliverables for the job they have with the discretionary effort that woudl be considered "above and beyond." Seems like we have people who are really good at the creative innovative stuff who'll let their work in the call center slip while they're working on another project. It's almost like having that running back who averages 6 yards a carry, but can't or won't pass block. Or, in your parlance, Mr. Dunn -- a 6'8" forward who can shoot lights out, but won't get back on defense. The great ones do both!

The ones who can balance the two are gold and need be treated as such. And the front line leaders who don't get overly distracted by strong performance in either area and really can accurately assess the overall effort are just as precious.

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