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This is our May Day/ Labour Day special, regarding an issue that most of the working population are concerned about: Are High Performers in an organisation the Most Engaged Employees at the same time?


To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (http://www.psycheselling.com/page4.html)


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Why 42% of Your Best Performers Could be the Most Dis-Engaged

Excerpts from the Wall Street Journal

Based on a Study and additional comments by Leadership IQ

A company’s best employees should also be its happiest and most engaged, but that’s not always the case.
A new study finds that, in 42% of companies, low performers actually report being more engaged – more motivated and more likely to enjoy working at their organization, for example – than middle and high performers do.

The findings suggest many organizations are not holding employees accountable for their work, allowing the worst workers to skate by, says Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, the Atlanta-based consulting firm that conducted the survey.

“Low performers often end up with the easiest jobs because managers don’t ask much of them,” he said, so they’re under less stress and they’re more satisfied with their daily work lives.

Meanwhile, dedicated and conscientious workers end up staying at the office late, correcting the work of the low performers, and making sure clients or customers are satisfied. This pattern breeds frustration and disengagement in the high performers—and perhaps ultimately drives them to seek work elsewhere. “They feel stressed and undervalued, and it starts to undermine the high performers’ confidence that the organization is a meritocracy,” said Mr. Murphy.

To remedy the situation, managers should speak frankly with high and middle performers, ferreting out what frustrations might potentially send them looking for new opportunities. They should also find out what could motivate them to stick around, he added.

To arrive at its findings, Leadership IQ looked at data from 207 companies that kept detailed records of both performance evaluations and engagement surveys.

In the remaining 58% of organizations surveyed, high performers were the most engaged, or engagement scores were about equal among the employees. In the rarest cases, Murphy said, the middle performers were the most engaged.  That segment of the workforce—the employees who are neither superstars nor slackers—tends to be ignored by managers, he said.

Leadership IQ also looked into the specific dynamics of one company, a 1,000-person technology-services firm, where low performers reported high levels of engagement.  It found that, on a 7-point scale, low performers gave a 5.99 score when rating the statement “I am motivated to give 100% effort when I’m at work.” High performers gave an aggregate score of 5.36 and middle performers’ score was 5.32, the lowest.

Low performers were also more likely than the other two groups to recommend their company as a “great organization to work for.” And in many cases, they didn’t even realize they were low performers. When asked whether the employees at the company “all live up to the same standards,” low performers were far more likely to agree with the statement than their higher-achieving counterparts.


Gallup dedicated a blog post recently to attacking Leadership IQ’s recent study about how high performers are sometimes less engaged than low performers. 
If you didn't see our study, it was big news, reported in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, HR Executive, the Harvard Business Review, and even by Rush Limbaugh and NPR. Leadership IQ matched engagement survey and performance appraisal data for 207 organizations. The annual performance evaluation ratings were provided by the organizations and they decided what constitutes a “low performer” and a “high performer.”  
We then measured employee engagement using the Leadership IQ “Hundred Percenter Index” (our proprietary engagement survey). We define engagement as the willingness of an employee to give 100% of their discretionary effort to the job and their willingness to recommend this organization as a terrific place to work. And what we found was that in 42% of those 207 organizations (i.e. 87 companies), high performers were less engaged than low performers. 

Now, Gallup doesn’t like this finding because it doesn’t fit the engagement definition they’ve marketed for years. Gallup attacking Leadership IQ is no big deal (we’re pretty tough here). But what sickens me is that Gallup is attacking real-life workers who are trying to speak their mind. 
Let’s look more specifically at Gallup’s shameful post…
First, Gallup doesn’t believe that high performers can be less engaged than low performers. They titled the piece, “No, Low Performers Are Not More Engaged Than High Performers.”  And then they say “The Leadership IQ finding that in 42% of organizations there is an inverse relationship between engagement and performance likely means that their measurement of engagement, performance, or both is less than optimum.”  
So the Gallup rule seems to be ‘if you don’t like the message, deny it, and then slander the messenger.’ But their unseemly behavior notwithstanding, what’s really despicable is their disregard for what actual employees have to say about this situation. The Wall Street Journal was the first publication to report on this study. And they let real people openly post comments on their news reports. As I write this, there are 183 comments following the article. Here are just a few: 

  • I am involved in a family business that has 8 different locations, and I have recently seen this scenario playing out in real life. Those people who were the top performers in the company 30 years ago have either left the company or sunk to the level of being the low performers. Why? Because they were never recognized for the work that they were doing, and they became frustrated with having to constantly clean up the low performers mistakes. 


  • I concur with this 100%! The incompetent ones are those who are given the less responsibility and duties because they can’t be trusted rather than being fired.


  •  So characteristic of the healthcare organization I work for: be unproductive and surly? Get rewarded with the best shifts and overtime doing nothing but sitting. Good luck trying to fix it though. Most people with a clue bide their time, then go elsewhere. You can’t change culture overnight.


  • I work for a company that has actually rewarded mediocrity while the number one performer works the hardest, gets the best customer feedback, goes the extra mile continuously and is still in the same spot as they started. The end result…….. An exiting employee who will be picked up by another company and a massive drop in revenue & customer satisfaction for the company that took them for granted. Bad business move for a SALES company.

  • This article nails it. I showed it to a few of my productive co-workers and they agreed it was written about us. Things got so bad here we asked for a review from our corporate office HR department. They came and listened to our complaints and the lazy unproductive had nothing bad to say. The productive hard workers had plenty to say and we asked to start making everyone accountable. It seemed like an easy request. Wrong. They did nothing. So the slackers are still slacking.

These real-life employees are saying, “Yes! We face this problem! Please help us fix it!” Anyone who’s had a real job for more than a few years knows the demoralization that comes from being a high performer surrounded by low performers—getting burned out by carrying their load, and resentful over a lack of recognition for your work. This is reality for a whole segment of employees. And that’s a problem that needs solving.
But Gallup doesn’t like that message. They don’t want to listen to those real-life employees. We don’t know why Gallup isn’t interested in what real employees have to say. At Leadership IQ, we respect the voice of the employee and we are darn sure going to listen to them. I like to think of us as the employee survey company that actually LISTENS to what employees say when they answer our surveys. 
If the Gallup folks were truly research-minded, they might have asked themselves ‘how could all those Wall Street Journal commenters feel this way and our model missed it?’ But for Gallup, I guess real employees don’t matter if they don’t fit Gallup’s preconceived model. 
Let’s look at where Gallup misses the real point:  

  • Ignore what doesn’t fit the model. Gallup does say, “Now, this doesn’t mean that highly productive employees are never disengaged or that low-performing employees are never engaged. But, what our study does tell us is that when business units have more engaged employees their probability of success improves substantially.” The word “but” in there tells you everything you need to know. Basically Gallup is saying ‘sure, maybe some employees feel like that, but they don’t fit our model, so to hell with them.’

  • Performance ratings aren’t reliable. “The Leadership IQ study based its findings on performance appraisal instead of on objective performance data, such as productivity, profit, turnover, customer engagement, safety, absenteeism, quality, and shrinkage.” So what they’re saying is that you leaders out there can’t be trusted to develop meaningful performance appraisals that measure anything important. I tend to give leaders credit for knowing what actually drives their own business success. If the CEO and HR leaders design a performance appraisal system unique to their organization, maybe they know what they’re doing. 


  • Old ways or the highway. According to the blog post, Gallup created their engagement model in the early nineties. Their engagement model “which Gallup defines as 12 specific workplace elements” is old. And yet, regardless of the fact that the early nineties was a lifetime ago, they’re not changing. 

Since Gallup created their “12 specific workplace elements” (aka the Q12), the United States has had September 11th, political polarization, the Great Recession, and soaring unemployment. The whole world (and every business leader) talks about a “new normal.” The whole world, that is, except Gallup, who uses the same survey as 15 years ago. 


Take one of Gallup’s “12 specific workplace elements,” the question “I have a best friend at work.” (Yes, folks, that’s an actual Gallup engagement survey question). Employees today have real pain, deep struggles and they’re working their butts off to succeed. But Gallup trivializes their careers and struggles by distilling it to ‘having a best friend at work.’ When I look at the world, I see real people with real needs and desires and challenges. Apparently Gallup just sees their own narcissistic model, still in a world dominated by Pets(dot)com and crazy stock options and foosball tables. News flash Gallup—it’s a different world out there and today’s employees need real help.

On Leadership IQ’s employee engagement surveys, we use open-ended questions in addition to scaled questions. We want to hear the voices of your actual employees. And you leaders out there need to hear your people’s voices, too. 

  • Alleged omnipotence. Gallup has already proved it isn’t capable of listening to real people who may have ideas that don’t fit the Gallup model. Remember the last presidential election? The very last Gallup poll on November 5th showed Romney beating Obama by a point (their headline read “Romney 49%, Obama 48% in Gallup's Final Election Survey”). They had the worst performance of all the major political polls. A blogger for the New York Times (Nate Silver) called the election exactly right. But Gallup, with all their putative researchers, is so incapable of listening to real people that they thought Romney would win. 

In fact, according to the post election analysis in the NY Times, Gallup had the worst performing poll. The New York Times said “Gallup has now had three poor elections in a row. In 2008, their polls overestimated Mr. Obama’s performance, while in 2010, they overestimated how well Republicans would do in the race for the United States House.” Apparently, Gallup doesn’t listen to anybody, in any walk of life, if they don’t agree with the Gallup propaganda. And it shows in their embarrassing performance.

Now, is our study of 207 organizations the last word on this topic? No way. In fact, go ahead and ignore our study. Ignore the 42% finding. I don’t care. But please, oh please, read the comments on the Wall Street Journal page or all the other media who covered this. Those commenters are real people, with real pain, telling you that there’s a real problem. Please listen to them. Don’t ignore them. 
If all that happens out of our study is that leaders really truly listen to their employees, I’ll feel like Leadership IQ made a positive difference in the world.

There’s one final thing about the Gallup prejudices that sticks in my craw: They want to treat employees like children. That question about having a best friend at work is more suited to kindergarten than a workplace. 

Leadership IQ believes employees are adults, with unlimited potential, who should be given the opportunity to take control of their own futures..
That’s why we just launched a self-engagement assessment. We’re giving employees the chance to see if they’re doing all they can to make themselves more motivated, fulfilled, and energized at work. 

After people take this free assessment, they immediately receive a 17-page report, with their personal scorecard on 36 key characteristics. People immediately learn:

  • Are your goals exciting enough to help you get ahead at work?

  • Have you given up control of career to your boss (and how do you get it back)?

  • Are you recovering quickly enough from emotional setbacks at work?

  • Does your day ‘get away from you’ as soon as you walk in the door?

  • Are you currently setting yourself up to suffer from burnout?

We believe in respecting, and listening to, employees. And I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that Gallup clearly doesn’t care what real employees have to say or that they’re so arrogant that they think they can get away with attacking Leadership IQ for doing what they won’t..

Something to ponder as you’re planning your next employee engagement survey. 


Need help in improving your staff's performance along with their employee engagement's levels?  Simply e-mail info@directions-consulting.comm or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.  We are Leadership IQ's ONLY partner in Asia.



About Directions Management Consulting


Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.


In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia.


Psycheselling.com is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.


Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Unilever, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Freudenberg etc.


Through collaboration with consultancies such as Forum Corporation, MTI, de Bono China, ProWay etc., the consultants in Directions Management Consulting have served clients such as PwC, Dong Feng, Evonik, Linde Engineering, Epson amongst others.


Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.


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