Managers play favorites. They’re not supposed to, but they do.
A recent study by Novations indicates that managers have preconceived notions about who among their staff has the greatest potential and then parcels out choice assignments to those they believe are the strongest performers.
Employers were asked about the prevailing belief in their organization regarding talent and potential. Forty-seven percent said that some employees have more potential than others, and management should identify and invest in that population. Just 34 percent said all employees are capable of high potential. Another 15 percent said there was no prevailing belief inside their organization.
A small pool of chosen performers gets smaller still. Thirty percent of managers believe that just 20 percent of their staff members are performing at “go to” levels, meaning a high enough level of productivity to warrant being called upon regularly by that managers to complete necessary assignments. Only six percent of managers believe that 50 percent of their employees are performing at “go to” levels.
The attitude that gems in the workplace just need to be found is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In some fields like entertainment, potential is a curse word. But in the minds of too many workplace managers, it doesn’t exist at all.
The message is clear: pick out an all-star team and focus energies in their direction. Forget about everyone else. No wonder engagement levels are low, retention is low and managers are frustrated with increasing workloads.
In times of reduced workforces and increased productivity, managers are sending a signal that only the chosen ones are worthy of attention. They should be doing the opposite: investing in the performance of all. By relying upon the same small circle of employees, a “go to” team, managers risk isolating individuals who could blossom into valuable contributors in a short period of time.