Leadership, Measurement

6 ways to identify top performers (without visiting every location)

Posted on: March 1, 2024Updated on: March 7, 2024By: Max Lerner

We’re always looking to drive better business outcomes. Sales. CX. Retention—you name it. As an instructional designer, I’m constantly working with customers to propel those KPIs forward. And time after time, I’m seeing that the secret sauce to driving these key business initiatives—and ensuring continued growth and success on the frontline—comes down to your top-performing employees. 

Top Performer Working In A Grocery Store

But here’s where it gets tricky. You may have thousands, hundreds of thousands or (why not?) millions of employees across the country, or even the world. How do you identify your top performers? How do you find the fabled needle in the haystack? Now you may have figured out how to clone yourself and accomplish this daunting task without breaking a sweat (if so, what’s your secret?!). But for the rest of us—how do you identify your top performers without spending time in every location? 

That the solution lies in workforce insights. Leveraging these analytics lets you point to top-performing regions, locations and individual employees, without ever leaving your desk. And once this information is harvested and analyzed, you’re left with a blueprint for success. 

Let’s walk through several proven data points that will allow you to gain a better understanding of high potential performers and active high performers within your workforce, no matter how large. 

Read on for this exalted treasure map 🗺.

Data point #1: Knowledge

Having an avenue to check in on employee knowledge can be a game changer. If you’re looking to identify your top performing employees, measuring their knowledge surrounding products, policies and procedures is a great place to start. If you’re using a digital learning and enablement solution (I can recommend a great one 💁🏻‍♂️), then you may be able to track this more easily.   

Frontline workers that show they’re on top of product information are more likely to be able to help customers and sell that product better. Those that show they know the steps to follow to perform a critical process, are more likely to perform that process efficiently and effectively. Take a look at the knowledge data available to you and let it start you on the journey to finding your star players. 

Data point #2: Task Completion

Monitoring task completion allows you to track who accomplishes tasks time and time again, showing consistency of behavior. Additionally, this data point allows you to determine a vital quality of top performers—motivation. I’ve often found that top performers are self-motivated to perform their job and the requisite tasks. Rather than routinely requiring reminders, top performers are their own catalysts. 

Again, monitoring task completion at a company-wide level requires a more sophisticated solution (ahem…), but when you consistently monitor behavior completion, you’re able to gain tremendously valuable information on who is driving the ship and who is only along for the ride. Nudge these users in the right direction and they’ll fly forward. 

Data point #3: Readiness

Readiness is often seen as a magical intersection of user confidence, execution and knowledge. You can use this metric to identify locations and frontline employees that are ready for an upcoming task, whether it be a new promotion, product launch or marketing initiative. When employees are consistently “ready”, they can be flagged as top performers on their team, uniquely positioned to drive outcomes and lead by example from within. 

Each one of these data points—confidence, behavior execution and knowledge—can be used to individually determine top performers. But when you look at them all together, what you see is proven performance.

Data point #4: Peer-to-peer recognition

Another way to identify top performers is by letting your employees do the work for you. Let the number of peer-to-peer recognitions an associate receives highlight them as top performing employees. Who better to identify those that go above and beyond than the individuals working around them, day in and day out? Here are some key pieces of recognition to help us flag the true gold-star employees:

  • Going the extra mile
  • Excelling at their job
  • Demonstrating that they are eager to help out
  • Inspiring everyone to come together and work through difficult tasks
  • Making work a little easier with positivity
  • Making a positive impact through their teaching or guidance

When employees are recognized for these qualities and actions by their peers, we can be sure that they are exemplifying these attributes, even when senior leadership isn’t watching.

Data point #5: Customer Recognition

You can also go one step further and take a look at customer recognition. Customers have no skin in the game, and are recognizing frontline workers purely for going above and beyond in creating a memorable experience. In other words, they recognize top performers. 

Measuring the number of positive comments and experiences customers have with an associate can be tricky. But if you nail it, you’ll have pure first-hand observations about your employee pool. Go high-tech with a customer experience platform, or low-tech with a comment box at each location that gets sent back to head office. As long as you’re receiving feedback, it’s a win! 

Data point #6: Sales Data

Taking a look at the cold hard numbers on who sold (or upsold) what can be a great indicator of high performance. Whether you’re interested in CVR, total revenue or anything in between, you’re able to take a look at who is driving the metrics you prioritize without the risk of your own internal bias or leanings. 

You can even take this data and recognize associates publicly with acknowledgement or rewards, creating a positive feedback loop and encouraging even more of that desired behavior in top performing employees.  

While each of these notes in and of itself can provide insight, when you look at all of these together? A symphony of high performance. In the end, providing a clear picture of the employees to tap at a scalable, company level can be a huge driver of your business performance and goals.

Max Lerner

Max Lerner is an instructional designer and avid frontline enablement enthusiast, with years of experience helping organizations support their teams to drive business outcomes.

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