Evaluating and developing your staff is vital to strong business growth. When it comes time for your yearly performance reviews, examining employees’ results are important but when was the last time you took a long hard look at your employees and systematically evaluated not only the results they produce but also the behaviors employed to produce those results?
An alternative from more common evaluation techniques the ranking process for 4-Blocking is simple. This method often provides a new perspective of where managers should be investing their employee training and development time and how to improve both productivity and morale on your team.
Draw a large “L” on a piece of paper. Place the numbers 1 – 4 along the horizontal “x-axis” – this represents an employee’s behaviors. Next, place the numbers 1 – 4 along the vertical “y-axis” to represent how well that employee exemplifies the proper results that your company desires and trains to develop. Then, place each employee on the chart based on where they rank on both results and behaviors using whole numbers. Use a single dot on the graph to plot both the employee’s results and behaviors.
- below average
Once you have placed each employee, divide the chart into four equal quadrants. This is done around the 2.5 mark on both the “x-axis” and “y-axis”. Label each quadrant “A” through “D” based on the example below.
It is important to understand the personalities within these types- as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each of these groups. Prepare yourself by understanding the following to take the necessary steps with each type of employees to improve their performance and results while investing the appropriate amount of time to spend in each category.
“A” People (low on behavior, high on results):
Many people that fall into the “A” category have high results that aren’t always sustainable. These results are not always achieved using replicatable behaviors.
For example, an “A” person could be a member of the sales team who continues to do well because they have been in the business for so long or have long-term customer relationships but they have not embraced any new systems your company put into place. An “A” person could also be a service representative who has inherited a number of strong accounts but is not growing those accounts and therefore ranks low in behaviors.
The problem with employees in this category is that management usually chooses to leave them alone because they are capable of getting results. This can be dangerous because “A” people, left unchecked, are emulated by others in the organization. These people can be arrogant and are often jaded. “A” people resist change and often subscribe to a “this is the way we/I have always done it” mentality.
Every effort should to be made to improve behaviors of those that fall into the “A” category. It is important to properly manage these people since due to their high performance they probably aren’t getting much attention from management. If this group continues to remain resistant to processes your company wants modeled and refuses to modify their own personal behaviors, a change in personnel may be necessary. When a company demonstrates its commitment to its process and systems, other employees will realize how important it is to not only achieve results, but to achieve them through the proper process. Your business will be better for it in the long run.
“B” People (low on behaviors, low on results):
“B” people tend to fall into one of two categories. They may be new employees who haven’t yet learned the behaviors or gotten results because they are still getting up to speed. If this is the case, this category of a “B” person should rapidly move in the direction to become “C” and then “D” people. As long as this type of “B” person is willing to learn to best processes and work hard, their success will come.
The other type of person that falls into this category is people who aren’t willing to change or lack the skills. This seems very obvious but managers tend to spend 80% of their time managing the people that fall into the “B” category. If someone is in this category because they just need more training that is fine- but if people here are not making a positive contribution to the company because they aren’t willing to make an effort, managers should make the decision to cut bait before a negligent “B” person negatively impacts the remaining team members.
The goal is move “B” people into the “C” category. Results will come to “B” people once their behavior is changed and they will be able to continue to grow and improve.
“C” People (low on results, high on behavior):
Ideally, this category should include the fewest team members. Usually employees pass through this quadrant on their way to success.
An employee could be a “C” person due to a time delay on getting results even if members are putting in the correct behaviors. For example, it could take a few months worth of sales activities to produce an acceptable sales result for a recent hire. You may need to take a longer look at your process if someone is executing the right behaviors but aren’t seeing results.
If there are multiple people in this category or someone has remained here for six months or longer, the processes themselves and/or the system of accountability should be evaluated to ensure that there are programs in place to help assure employee success.
“D” People (high on results, high on behavior):
This is the category for your top performers- employees that are garnering strong results and showcasing the types of behaviors you want to put into place. “D” people rarely get attention from management since they are already excelling. Managers should make an effort to spend the majority of their time in this category. It is imperative to recognize the success of those in the “D” category and to coach those that fall into this group to mentor folks in the “B” and “C” categories. This will allow them to continue to grow personally and professionally. Encourage “D” employees to be mentors and share their knowledge, success, tips and tricks of the trade so the whole team is more successful.
As a manager it is important to know with whom and where you should be spending your time. 4-blocking is a useful tool to evaluate employees. Once you know what categories employees fall into, you can take steps to encourage employees on their current path or guide them on a more successful route. All employees will fall into one of these four blocks. Let this article be a template to guide your company to continued success through understanding and improving employee behaviors.
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