Superior Staff Performance: The 10 Commandments


All managers seek superior on job staff performance. That’s fine. But the reasons they fail to get it are usually the result of what the manager, not the employee, does or doesn’t do. Follow these “10 Commandments” if you want the best performance from your employees.

1. Thou shalt ensure that your business has a crystal clear focus and a narrow, specific target market. These are essential in every successful business. If you aren’t sure about these issues, staff performance will lack proper focus and perspective. As my old mate Bix Berry says, “Marketing isn’t everything; but everything is marketing”.

2. Thou shalt test staff as a routine part of staff selection. Staff performance starts with choosing people who’ll give you the business results you expect from them. The selection interview won’t tell you that. You may believe that you’re a brilliant interviewer but you can’t tell what people can do merely by talking to them. Ensure that applicants demonstrate   that they can do what you want effectively before you appoint them. Always use a probationary period on the job before confirming an appointment.

3. Thou shalt know exactly the staff performance you expect. If you don’t know exactly what you want, employees can’t provide it. It’s that simple. Naturally, you must tell employees exactly what performance you expect from them and how performance will be measured. Loose, waffly generalizations just won’t do! “Exactly” means just that.

4. Thou shalt always measure on job staff performance. The performance of employees must be measured using totally clear and specific performance systems and performance standards. Your performance standards should be designed so that staff can measure their own performance.

5. Thou shalt accept that team performance is more important than individual performance. We employ individuals. But business requires that individuals function successfully as team members. Seek staff who are satisfied being part of an effective and successful team.

6. Thou shalt recognize the importance of good systems in business success. Employee error is usually a result of poor systems. If your systems are poor, your people will fail. A poor system will beat a good performer every time.

7. Thou shalt train for success, The purpose of training is to ensure that “trainees” can do something better or differently on the job after the training. If they can’t, your training, not the trainees, has failed. Training must be about “doing”: not “appreciating” or “understanding” or “learning”. Specify precisely what employees will be able to do  after training before the training commences.

8. Thou shalt recognize that employees are a very costly resource. They are not like machines. Staff either cost money or make money. If they’re not achieving the business results you expect, they are costing you money, even if they’re “working hard”. You can’t switch them off when you leave each night. Whether they cost you money or make money for you will be largely a function of what you do or don’t do.

9. Thou shalt not overemphasize the importance of good interpersonal relationships. Staff will not perform well merely because they “get on well together”. There’s even reasonable evidence to suggest that strong interpersonal bonds between individual employees may impede on job performance. Good interpersonal relationships are usually the result of successful team achievement not a prerequisite for it. Stress successful on job performance and co-operation. When employees perform successfully together, they’ll sort out relationships themselves.

10. Thou shalt reward superior performance with superior rewards. Your best performing teams should receive the best rewards. Be prepared to show that outstanding performance reaps outstanding rewards. Have both team and individual reward and incentive schemes.  But make the best individual rewards dependent on best team performance.

Our Preferred Techniques

Most managers have “pet” techniques that they prefer to use when managing people. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if your “pet” techniques fail to achieve the performance you want, perhaps you need to review them.

I’ve always liked the words of famous basketball coach, John Wooden: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”


Effective on job employee performance is nowhere near as complicated as some people make out. But it does require your adherence to 10 essential matters that I call “The 10 Commandments”.

What To Do Now

Which of the “10 Commandments” would help your business the most? What can you do to apply that “Commandment” most effectively in your business? Is there a “Commandment” that you don’t follow that’s damaging your business? How could your employees help you to follow the “Commandments”?

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