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Maximising The Value Of Star Performers And Dealing With Bad Apples



As managers, our focus is invariably on keeping the team on track, aligned with one another and the mission. But overall performance can be strongly affected by certain individuals; either by outstanding individuals or by ‘bad apples’. These outliers are key to building the dream team and reducing risk.

So, how can these two extremes be managed to maximise success while eradicating pain points?

I don’t believe there are many real ‘bad apples’ – intrinsically most people want to do well. Traction, by Gino Wickman, approaches the problem in a more useful way. There are three types of underperformers: the wrong person in the right seat; the right person in the wrong seat; and the wrong person in the wrong seat.

Wrong person, right seat

These people might look great on paper, but in practice are a cultural mismatch. To avoid this, keep an eye out for warning signs, for example, staff taking other people outside for ‘chats’ or being negative. You need to confront the individual before it escalates. Negative behaviour can be toxic – your culture risks losing credibility with the rest of the team.

To tackle it, outline behaviours in reviews, providing examples and evidence. Most people will try and overcome this, or leave of their own will if they’re really not a good fit.

Right person, wrong seat

If someone fits the business, but not the role, there are three areas that might be holding them back; self-motivation, self-management, and skills. Often people can be promoted above their capabilities because they show talent in a different role – it’s known as the Peter Principle, that people tend to get promoted to the level of their incompetence. If they have the right motivation and attitude try to up-skill them with training.

If that doesn’t work look at other roles within the company that would suit them better.

It can be tempting to leave your star employees to their own devices. But it’s just as important to help them develop and keep them motivated.

If self-management is the issue, try putting a work-in-progress board above each team member’s desk with all the things they’re working on plus updates. They’re forced to take responsibility for their tasks, and review them regularly!

Wrong person, wrong seat

If someone is wrong for the company and the role, and that doesn’t change, you might need to let them go. In these cases, the most important thing is to do things by the book and be generous to your leaver (with notice periods and so forth), for an easier exit in the long term.

It’s not just about the legal side of things either. Being decent to leavers and keeping them onside (as far as possible) is important for your brand. Disgruntled leavers can cause untold brand damage in the worst cases. When HMV announced mass redundancies to their employees, marketing staff took out their anger publicly on HMV’s own Twitter account.

Right person, right seat…

It can be tempting to leave your star employees to their own devices. But it’s just as important to help them develop and keep them motivated. You will need to invest time to understand the different individuals. I used to manage two guys, one of whom a good ‘talking to’ would always push them to prove themselves, whereas for the other it would cause the other to panic and break down!

Developing goals for high-achievers is important for their development. SMART goals are one option or Traction uses the idea of Rocks with three to seven goals that must be achieved within three months (for companies, teams or individuals).

Continually monitoring progress is an essential part of that goal-setting process. We use Monthly Business Reviews, one-on-ones looking at highlights and issues from last month and defining objectives for the next, and Crucials, weekly actions crucial to the business.

Finally, great staff will need rewards to keep them keen and motivated. Feedback and praise are a huge part of that, but pay, bonuses and, perhaps most importantly, promotion, should also be considered. This is especially important for junior staff – if there’s no progression available, you will get leavers.

Develop a clear promotion framework with bands of salary – once an individual is at the top of their band, progress them to another responsibility. If someone has progressed as far as they can go in the framework, how about letting them manage key areas like a new product launch, giving them real independence and responsibility?

Where some underperformers can be ‘culture terrorists’, your star performers can fulfil the opposite role, illustrating what success looks like and inspiring others in the team.

Depending on your business culture, perhaps think about creating some friendly competition, for example, have screens showing people’s achievements against their targets.

In the end it’s all about culture and values, ensuring that your culture enables success, validates achievement, but also challenges underperformance. Both underperformers and high-achievers play a vital role in realising the culture that emerges in practice – as a manager it’s your job to make sure everyone’s moving in the right direction.

Bridget is our senior editor, she likes to write about web and marketing mostly. You can reach her at

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Create Better Business Environment And Experience For Employees With AI And A Mentor



There is no controversy in the fact that AI or Artificial Intelligence creates a better user experience in all aspects. Whether it is in the medical field or real estate business, automobile manufacturing, or any other, the use and dominance of AI in all sectors are hard to ignore.

While for any type of business focusing on the customer experience aspect plays a crucial role, so does the employee benefits and experience.

Both are the backbone of a business playing a significant role in its success. If you neglect any of these aspects, it will inevitably affect the bottom line of your business directly and severely.

Now you may tend to think what really does AI have to do in employee experience. Well, Artificial intelligence or AI has become an essential thing in almost every aspect of modern lives, and it has become so in the most unnoticeable way. 

You will see extensive use of AI in:

  • Home appliances
  • Mobile phones
  • Modern cars and 
  • TVs and a lot of other products.

People of today have really become accustomed to this technology in a comparatively short period of time. The inclusion of AI in different things that you use today has made your life easier, and it guides you through your individual journeys.

Most of the people interact with it every day, and several businesses today use AI for several other reasons, including:

  • Streamlining their work processes
  • Helping the customers to self-serve
  • Reducing the costs and much more.

According to a recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting, it is found that nearly 58% of customer engagement decision-makers of the world have made customer experience or CX the top priority for any organization. 

This they have done by implementing a more holistic AI strategy. This strategy has helped the businesses to renovate the customer journey and enjoy significant benefits as a result. According to the same report by Forrester Consulting, more than 63% of the businesses that use AI technology for CX have witnessed a significant increase in their Net Promoter Score or NPS. This is all due to their enhanced and AI-based customer engagement strategies.

Change in the workforce

Just like CX, AI an also help you to transform the employee experience. The modern workforce has changed significantly from that of the past years. Moreover, there is a change in the workplace as well, where now remote offices, work from home, and even roaming are the norm. Add to that the ways of working have also changed dramatically.

Therefore, with such changes, all employees, including those who are not born as a digital native, have definite expectations as to how technology will work for them. 

They are now also more focused on well-designed, affordable, and easy to use apps with a hope that it will make their tasks much easier. This will, in turn, enable them to be more productive.

However, even though there is a large number of consumer applications out there, several companies fail to deliver a more user-friendly business system. Well, AI is here to help them out. This will help them in different aspects, such as:

  • Keeping their employees happy who in turn will bring in more satisfied customers
  • Reimagining and reinventing the workplace of the future and
  • Removing the pain points of the employees. 

It will now help them to create a modern and more streamlined experience for their employees across all departments and for all roles throughout the organization. This will ensure that the employees put in their best efforts, always and every time. This will result in higher production, more employee satisfaction, and business profit on the whole.

The principle is much similar to the one that you employ in your business marketing strategy to integrate Instagram and other social channels to deliver your users what they exactly want and get more automatic IG likes and organic traffic to your site.

Engage a coach or a mentor

In addition to AI technology playing its role, you may also engage a coach or a mentor to help you to boost the morale of your employees. However, whether you will need a mentor, coach, or advisor will depend on your specific needs. Yes, there is a difference between an advisor, a mentor, and a business coach, with each having a different value to add. 

  • business coach is the one who suggests business strategies and monitors the performance, just like a basketball or any other coach do, standing on the sideline. They also keep an eye on what your competitors may be doing or thinking of and suggest counter strategies and techniques. The business coach will not work in your business but will meet you as well as your employees on a regular basis. They are there to change, improve, and correct different aspects of your business. They are more focused on the end goal and suggest accurate and productive strategies accordingly.
  • A mentor, on the other hand, plays more of a parental role. They have a wealth of experience in real-life situations and know a lot about business and the ways to grow a business. They have done all these personally. They know that running a business is a long-term and continual effort and will, therefore, be more interested in your personal development. Ideally, the role of the mentor is to transfer skills, sharing of knowledge, and contacts part from their experience. They can be contacted regularly or irregular, and the discussions may be in-depth or in pointers, long or concise.
  • An adviser is actually a technical specialist, more like a sharp-shooter. With their in-depth knowledge of a particular subject, they will provide the most accurate and practical solutions. They can give such suggestions on any pressing issue. Their relationship with you is more casual as compared to a business coach or a mentor. It is like, you ask questions and they answer. They listen to a bit and talk a lot to solve a problem quickly.

Therefore, consider the circumstances and hire the best person and use the best technology to have a happy and satisfied set of employees to ensure business success.

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7 Reasons Why Its Important to Have a Niche



A niche is a focused, targetable segment of the market. You are a specialist providing a product or service that focuses on the specific needs of an identified client group, which cannot or are not being addressed in such detail by the dominant providers in your industry.

But it is important to understand that there is, in fact, a difference between your identified niche and your target market.

Your target market is a specific identifiable group of people you work with, e.g. women in the city, technology start-ups, creative agency owners, small and medium businesses in a particular revenue range.

Your niche is the service you specialise in offering to your target market.

Here are 7 reasons why it is important to have a niche:

To avoid spreading yourself too thin

Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin in saying that ‘everyone’ is your potential client, niche marketing will help you to focus on a specific grouping of people, and particularly on what their needs and wants are.

You will unlikely to be able to serve everybody, so it is important to focus on what you do best and aim it at a specific group of people who will likely buy what you offer.

It is important to find out what is important to them, what blogs they read, their beliefs and attitudes, who the main influencers in that network are.

Having these insights means that you can develop products or services specifically aimed at this group, based on your thorough knowledge and understanding of what they are interested in.

It’s easier to identify and target potential clients and partners to work with

As the pool of people that exists for a niche is smaller than its mainstream equivalent, it will be easier to identify potential clients and partners to work with, as you can be much more targeted and laser-focused with your marketing efforts.

It’s easier to become an expert and well known in your niche

Niching means it will be much easier for others to understand ‘what you do’ and ‘for whom’, which will make it easier to position you as an expert in your field. As this group is more targeted and of a smaller size, you can rapidly become well known within this group of people.

Your profile and overall visibility will increase within this group. It is a small world after all!

More and better referrals

Since it will be easier for others to understand what you do and for whom, it, in turn, becomes much easier for them to refer more and better quality clients to you that fit the profile of your ideal client, as you have built up trust, credibility, visibility, and it is very clear as to what your specialism is.

The more unique you are, the less competition you will have

There will be less competition, as you will provide the specific services or create the specific products for the specific people you are seeking to help in a specific way that meets their needs. The BIG advantage of becoming more unique is that usually it can’t be easily replicated by your competition!

Marketing becomes much easier

Effective niche marketing should really help with your marketing, positioning and branding as you will attract the ‘right people’ much more easily and quickly. People with similar interests tend to behave and are attracted to similar things. This means that many of your clients will do all the hard work for you as they will refer you more and more because your profile, credibility and influence are readily apparent within your tribe.

More repeat business

As you are able to provide an increasingly better service or product, based on your specific client’s needs, it is likely that you will get more repeat business – people will come back for more, and as an added benefit will often start spending more with you as your relationship grows with them.

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