Shining a Light on Performance

“While low performers squirm under bright light, high performers usually shine brightest.” – Bruce Tulgan in Not Everyone Gets a Trophy

Does Brick's love of lamp extend to a love of spotlights...being shined upon him?

Does Brick’s love of lamp extend to a love of spotlights…being shined upon him?

Chapter eight of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy addresses performance management of Generation Y, and offers a number of tactics and techniques to help in this endeavour. One approach that stood out to me was the technique of shining a light on performance; that is, increase the exposure of the Generation Y people. The neat thing about this is that it addresses all of your performance management objectives:

  • It rewards the high performers by giving them a platform to shine
  • It shows the middle performers that they are important
  • It usually scares off the low performers

Let’s start with the low performers.

In the author’s words, from p152, “Remember that stubborn low performers hate the bright light of scrutiny and usually will find a way to escape.” Basically, the low performers won’t like the fact that their low performance is constantly being made public – it calls too much attention to them and creates pressure with which they can’t cope. In many cases, they’ll simply leave voluntarily for less bright pastures.

I’d never really considered the issue in that much detail, and certainly hadn’t arrived at that strategy…but it seems quite fair: it also gives the low performers the opportunity to kick things into high gear and live up to the spotlight, and it’s not a bad thing if that happens.

Now, let’s consider the top performers. From p152: “Once you push out the stubborn low performers, the trick is getting everyone else to want to stay and work even harder for you. How? Keep shining that bright light. While low performers squirm under bright light, high performers usually shine brightest under the bright light. They want to know that someone knows just how much great work they are doing.”

Makes sense: reward the high performers with increased visibility that highlights their achievements.

What about the middle performers – likely the majority of the work force? From p152-153: “What about that vast group of employees who fall somewhere in the middle of the performance spectrum? Your job is to use that bright light of scrutiny to help them see their targets at work more clearly and aim better at those targets. By shining a bright light on their work, you tell them they are important and their work is important. Best of all, you will help them work a little faster and a little better.”

It’s so simple! A single strategy that addresses objectives across the whole performance spectrum.

How will you perform when all eyes are upon you?

How will you perform when all eyes are upon you?

In my image search, I also found this. Weird. If someone could explain it to me, I'd be grateful...and a little unsettled.

In my image search, I also found this. It appears to be a My Little Pony interrogating some other denizen of whatever universe the ponies inhabit. Weird. If someone could explain it to me, I’d be grateful…and a little unsettled.


Lee Brooks is the founder of Cromulent Marketing, a boutique marketing agency specializing in crafting messaging, creating content, and managing public relations for B2B technology companies.

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Posted in Books, Careers, Management
2 comments on “Shining a Light on Performance
  1. […] too, but that usually doesn’t last – they get put off by the high expectations and they wither under the spotlight that gets shined on the high-profile projects that are frequently, and deservingly, led by the high […]

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