Leaders, Focus on Moving your Middle- Play Offense, Not Defense

Let’s pretend you have a performance appraisal system that rates people on a scale of 1-7.  One being the worst, seven being rock-star status.   You have ten direct reports and you have honestly and accurately rated them all (we’re assuming a perfect world here, bear with me).

Here’s the breakdown of where people fall:

You have three people in the 1-3 range.

You have six people in the 4-6 range.

And you have one lone rock star at 7.

Which group should you focus most of your energy on in the coming year?

If customer satisfaction research leads us to any insight on this, you would ignore the bottom three and focus almost all your effort onto moving the six in the middle towards your rock star.

According to the 2016 Forrester Research U.S. Customer Experience Index  that is described in The Power of Moments, “If you elevate the positives (those in the 4-6 range) you’ll earn about nine times more revenue than if you focus on eliminating the negatives (those in the 1-3 range).”

But the middle majority typically gets less attention than anyone else.

The research showed that most business executives focused on eliminating the negatives to their financial peril.   I think most leaders do this too.  They spend so much of their time and energy on those that aren’t cutting the mustard to the detriment of those worth the effort in moving to the rock star category. (more on how to move them in our next post).


Don’t let the urgency of your bottom- the vocal minority that always seems to be screaming the loudest- keep you from focusing on the important middle majority that is worth your time and effort in investing.


Mary Ila Ward

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