What is better ? 60% employees at 120% motivation or 80 at 80 ?

So, there’s the question of whether the 80:20 rule applies to employees in a company also ? i.e., should we focus on the best employees and “take care of them” and get the best out of them, and hope that the results will be taken care of ? Or does the rule not apply in corporate life and we need a larger proportion of motivated people for optimal results ? 

My view tilts towards the latter. Generally, outputs of businesses depend on a larger bunch of people delivering to their best. This becomes especially true in organizations which require cross-functional delivery of revenues and hence, bank on team-work. In fact, come to think of it, 60pc people at 120 pc motivation will not do good for any industry. Even in “individual-delivery businesses” like possibly investment banking or consulting, highly motivated prima donnas will take you only that far.

Having said all of the above, it is common knowledge to keep the leadership layer at a 100+pc motivation level, largely because they are the ones who carry the vision and message down. If the messenger and manager herself does not speak the grammar of enthusiasm and energy, then chances are slim of the front line getting motivated.

100pc at 100pc is of course a dream of every business leader. But truth is that doing this is tough, especially in a larger organization where there are multiple links in the chain between the business leader and the frontline employee. Companies which regularly feature in “best places to work in” have a few common traits –

  • Transparent, honest and almost excessive communication from the business leader to the frontline,
  • A combination of clear KRAs given to employees followed up with a reasonable degree of freedom to deliver on those KRAs,
  • A culture of empathy starting from the top,
  • A culture of encouragement and praise starting from the top, and

Common organizational goals, which are well-communicated and re-stated from time to time.

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