Disclaimer: I got this in an email. This is not written by me, and is not my intellectual property. If you know the original source to it, I will be happy to link to it, and if it is copyrighted, I will be happy to seek permission to repost on my site, or take it off, as the case might be. I am sharing it here because I think there is good value in this illustration that everyone can learn from. I enjoyed reading it, and hope you enjoy too 🙂
Every company has a performance appraisal system in place to measure the effectiveness of its employees. Employees are normally rated in most of the companies in the Good, Very Good, Excellent, Outstanding categories. Apart from the above, non performance category is also there, which is not depicted here). Needless to say everyone wants to be rated Outstanding.
What is the yard stick and how do you measure these aspects?Â Â
- Employee “A” in a company walked up to his manager and asked what my job is for the day?
- The manager took “A” to the bank of a river and asked him to cross the river and reach the other side of the bank.
- “A” completed this task successfully and reported back to the manager about the completion of the task assigned. The manager smiled and said “GOOD JOB”
Next day Employee “B” reported to the same manager and asked him the job for the day. The manager assigned the same task as above to this person also.Â
- The Employee “B’ before starting the task saw Employee “C” struggling in the river to reach the other side of the bank. He realized “C” has the same task.
- Now “B” not only crossed the river but also helped “C” to cross the river.
- “B” reported back to the manager and the manager smiled and said “VERY GOOD JOB”
The following day Employee “Q” reported to the same manager and asked him the job for the day. The manager assigned the same task again.
- Employee “Q” before starting the work did some home work and realized “A”, “B” & “C” all has done this task before. He met them and understood how they performed.
- He realized that there is a need for a guide and training for doing this task.
- He sat first and wrote down the procedure for crossing the river, he documented the common mistakes people made, and tricks to do the task efficiently and effortlessly.
- Using the methodology he had written down he crossed the river and reported back to the manager along with documented procedure and training material.
- The manger said “Q” you have done an “EXCELLENT JOB”.
The following day Employee “O’ reported to the manager and asked him the job for the day. The manager assigned the same task again.
“O” studied the procedure written down by “Q” and sat and thought about the whole task. He realized company is spending lot of money in getting this task completed. He decided not to cross the river, but sat and designed and implemented a bridge across the river and went back to his manager and said, “You no longer need to assign this task to any one”.
The manager smiled and said “Outstanding job ‘O’. I am very proud of you.”
What is the difference between A, B, Q & O????????
Many a times in life we get tasks to be done at home, at office, at play.
Most of us end up doing what is expected out of us. Do we feel happy? Most probably yes. We would be often disappointed when the recognition is not meeting our expectation.
Let us compare ourselves with “B”. Helping some one else the problem often improves our own skills. There is an old proverb (I do not know the author) “learn to teach and teach to learn”. From a company point of view “B” has demonstrated much better skills than “A” since one more task for the company is completed.
“Q” created knowledge base for the team. More often than not, we do the task assigned to us without checking history. Learning from other’s mistake is the best way to improve efficiency. This knowledge creation for the team is of immense help. Re-usability reduces cost there by increases productivity of the team. “Q” demonstrated good “team-player” skills,
Now to the outstanding person, “O” made the task irrelevant; he created a Permanent Asset to the team. If you notice B, Q and O all have demonstrated “team performance” over an above individual performance; also they have demonstrated a very invaluable characteristic known as “INITIATIVE”.
Initiative pays of every where whether at work or at personal life. If you put initiative you will succeed. Initiative is a continual process and it never ends. This is because this year’s achievement is next year’s task. You cannot use the same success story every year.
The story provides an instance of performance, where as measurement needs to be spread across at least 6-12 months. Consequently performance should be consistent and evenly spread.
Out-of-Box thinkers are always premium and that is what every one constantly looks out for. Initiative, Out-of-Box thinking and commitment are the stepping stone to success. Initiative should be life long. Think of out of the box.Â
This is a nice illustration that the ‘performance bar’ keeps getting higher and higher as the time goes by, and doing something the same way won’t count as equally good performance as the last time. We all must constantly look for ways to improve the way of working. People who don’t take initiative and continue the routine way of doing things will soon find themselves out of place, literally ! The best performers in any team can be spotted by the way they go about the initiative they take to approachÂ a problem. These is a clear linkage between initiative and performance.Â In another blog, I will explore a model to measure initiative that was handed over to me by a senior HR professional while working at Philips, and I have used it for last ten years and found great value in using it.Â Â
This illustration also brings out a rather unfortunate fact of life: that life as a pioneer is not always kind. Perhaps the challenges (and odds) in doing something for the first time are far greater than subsequently improving upon it (well, mostly, I think), but we tend to short memories about initial contributions. I don’t have a good answer for it, except that I feel this is little unfortunate. I guess the only thing one can takeaway from this is not to sit on one’s laurels far too long, but get going as soon as the party is over !