© Thornhill Consultancy
2006

 

 




Spotting potential high performers within your own company.
Improving the performance of what you have.
Strategic recruitment

Spotting potential high performers within your own company.

1. A sales support secretary who was profiled as part of a team development programme was found to match a training company’s high performer model. She was promoted to the field sales team despite the reluctance of management and within six months was outperforming the whole team.

2. A salesman who was recommended for redundancy by sales management because of his “wheeler-dealer” approach turned out to be the only one in the sales team who matched the international company’s high performer model. Five years later the “wheeler-dealer” had become sales director and the winner of the group’s best achievement award.

3. An engineer failed his utility company’s assessment centre for potential selling skills because of his poor performance in presentation skills. He joined a rival company and within two years became the company’s top performer regularly achieving 200% of his target.  When the rival company developed their high performer model he achieved an almost perfect score despite his presentation skills still being poor because success in the job did not depend upon formal presentation skills.

4. In a senior management development project with an international manufacturing group a middle ranking accountant was identified as having a good match to the high performer model for Managing Directors within the group.  His first opportunity as MD came when he was asked to close a loss making unit for which a buyer could not be found and the plant closure costs were expected to be about 100m.  Instead he won permission to reduce costs substantially and go after a new market.  The company made a good profit for five consecutive years before being sold to a US conglomerate for 250m.

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Improving the performance of what you have.

1. A sales director of a computer equipment company was worried about a young high flyer of his who had suddenly begun to fail. The high performer model of the role showed an almost perfect score except for confidence. In the profiling interview he revealed that a new regional manager was undermining his confidence by criticising him behind his back to other sales staff and ignored him at meetings.  A pair session using the profiles to explain individual differences resolved their negative perceptions of each other and the youngster was soon back at the top of the league table.

2. A team of sales engineers increased their performance by more than 20% in two consecutive years in an almost static market by concentrating their training and development on the six aptitudes of their high performer model. This included a move away from focusing on the technical features of their products (which correlated negatively with performance) to finding out what the buyer wanted and limiting the ‘solution’ to those products and benefits which matched what the buyer wanted.

3. A heating and ventilation company had a seasonal business with a summer trough and looked for answers to this perennial problem within its high performer model. This showed that during the busy winter months, high performers would stay much closer to customers planning changes to their heating installation when it was switched off in the summer months and tended to win more summer contracts. By contrast lower performers tended to forget these enquiries until the summer arrived.  Retraining in this and other strategies led to a significant reduction in the summer trough.

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Strategic recruitment

1. After a series of expensive IT project failures, the managing director of a major manufacturing business used a high performer model to recruit IT project managers. The model revealed that high performing IT project managers were less innovative than lower performing ones contrary to expectation. Innovative project managers were more prepared to tolerate specification creep because they were attracted by new ideas and fresh approaches. Less innovative project managers tended to concentrate on identifying what the customer wanted, agreeing and freezing the specification and then delivering it.

2. A property developer wanted to protect himself from having too much housing stock during downturns in the market by better prediction of economic trends.  A high performer model was developed of this single aptitude to check that it could be accurately measured and did link to improved forecasting performance.  He then took the opportunity of recruiting a new marketing manager into the company to ensure that the sought after aptitude of forecasting ability was also brought into his team.

3. A newly privatised utility wanted to improve its marketing ability and developed a high performer model of its product managers. From the model it discovered that its current job competencies focused wrongly on reasoning skill and analytical thinking which had a neutral and negative correlation with performance and not enough on innovation and customer focus which were positive.

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