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  • David Hajdu

How I Retain High Performers and Measure Their Success

Twelve years ago, my friend David Niu set off on a Careeracation with his family, blending travel with entrepreneurial exploration. His goal was to meet inspiring entrepreneurs and figure out his next career move. During these encounters, David consistently asked: “If there was one problem you could solve that you’d be willing to pay for, what would it be?” The themes that emerged were clear: retaining your best people and measuring their performance accurately. Fast forward to today, and these concerns are still at the forefront of business challenges.

From this journey, TINYpulse was born. One of our key innovations at TINYpulse was developing a solution to address the challenge of measuring performance effectively, mitigating issues like recency bias, siloed data, and rater bias. At the time, many were declaring the end of traditional performance reviews, but the challenge remained: how do we fairly assess four critical career progression factors?

  1. How much better is one team member performing than another?

  2. When does the team member deserve a raise?

  3. How much is fair relative to the rest of the team?

  4. When is it time for a promotion and new levels of responsibility?

Creating a fair, scientific method of performance evaluation is the holy grail of leadership, yet it's elusive for many.


In the meantime, let's tackle a question I often get from my team:

What Defines a High Performer?

Everyone needs a baseline for their job expectations. At TINYpulse, we start with core values. A team member must embody these values daily to avoid eroding our culture. However, being a cultural fit alone doesn’t make someone a high performer. Here’s an example.


Elect and Spread Positivity:

A great team member is positive and respectful. A star goes beyond, spreading positivity and handling adversity with grace. This aligns with principles from "Radical Candor," where delivering tough feedback positively is crucial. If someone excels at this, they are likely performing at a high level.


Lead with Solutions and Embrace Change:

To me, this value stands out the most when I try to differentiate between people doing a great job and people who stand out as high performers. Here is how I see the difference between how a solid engineer and a high-performing engineer handles a user story:

  • A good engineer will take the story and write some code that tests out well.

  • While writing the code, they clean up other code around them, making the campground a better place as my buddy Harley likes to say.

  • Before writing the code, they challenge the story, working with the PO and design to ensure what gets to engineering makes sense.

  • Before challenging the story, they dig into customer feedback and get an understanding of how this story impacts our clients.

  • After they’ve done all that, they spend the next few weeks studying the usage data to see if they really did deliver value to our clients.

  • And finally, armed with all their knowledge gained pre- and post-delivery, they propose some ideas for the next story.

An engineer who takes this holistic view is truly leading with solutions and is likely to be performing at a very high level.


Managing People:

While high performers don't need to be managers, they must be leaders. At Microsoft, we learned that technical skills alone weren’t enough for management roles. Creating VP-level positions for individual contributors helped.

  • A good team member gets their work done responsibly.

  • A more experienced one is able to help others do the same.

  • A great one spreads their thought leadership throughout the company.

  • A high-performing one spreads their thought leadership throughout the community.


Community Impact:

Community involvement is crucial for two key reasons. Firstly, engaging outside your company fosters learning and growth. Secondly, contributing to the community showcases your company's strengths and values, enhancing your reputation and serving as an effective recruitment tool.


Leveraging AI for High Performance

Today, to become a high performer, leveraging AI tools is essential. At Talent Edge, we empower high performers and streamline talent management processes using advanced AI technologies. Here's how:

  • Enhance Talent Acquisition: AI tools identify top candidates efficiently, reducing hiring costs and time.

  • Improve Performance Measurement: AI-driven analytics provide real-time feedback, ensuring fair and accurate assessments.

  • Boost Retention Rates: Predictive analytics identify potential turnover risks, allowing proactive engagement with key talent.

By integrating AI-powered solutions, we help businesses retain top talent and measure performance accurately, addressing the core challenges identified by David Niu's journey.


For more insights on optimizing talent and leveraging AI, check out our related post on "Cultivating a Performance-Driven Culture During Hyper-Growth Space" here.


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