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  • Esther Er

The ABCDE of Workforce Management

Over the past thirty years of working with various performance leaders, sharing with them the ABCDE philosophy of workforce management is probably one of the easiest to understand. However, the ABCDE philosophy is probably one of the hardest to master!

Most performance leaders failed in workforce management due to not addressing one of the letters. They might start “bright” but after a while, lost the discipline in working on some of the letters.


A – Accelerate your High Performers: Don’t weigh down your top/high performers with non-essential tasks. Make them ran even faster. They are the ones who gets bored easily and wants new challenges. If you cannot constantly keep them occupied, someone else will. Give them the space to work on new exciting areas and provide them the right mentor and/or coach to guide them. Protect and retain your high performers at all times!


B – Build your bench strengths: All too often organization rely on just one single person in their organization. This individual may be their top scientist who have discovered the latest “toast bread”. The rest of the organization are often treated as “supporting cast”. What happens when your prized cow suddenly ran out of milk and/or move on to graze at another field? Organization must continue to focus on the rest of the company. Forget about this concept just focusing on top or high potential employees. Today, we must treat all employees as a “talent”.


C – Communicate (both top down and bottom up): Communication is a must to ensure that every employee is aware of where the business is heading and what is expected of them. Bottom up communication is truly knowing what each of your employee is doing each day! Every employee must be able to share with you what they are working on and what they are currently doing to improve things. In our fast-paced digital LEAN environment, “assuming” you know what each your staff is doing is a huge organizational risk! In our digital agile world, it is about engaging with your employees constantly.


D – Deal with Poor Performers and/or Behavior: Time is given by proper training and education. Constant focus on developing your employee for the future is a must. Throughout the period of investing in your employee, you need to convince them that this is “what we do around here”. Monitor their progress and have periodic feedback. The toughest thing is to deal with those who still cannot fit in the organization. Don’t wait for a destructive individual to stay too long as their infection will spread. I have seen performance leaders that does not deal with the first poor performer, and eventually ended up with a team of poor performers. When that happens, you suddenly realized that when the organization goes into “hard times”, the team is not stepping up at all.


E – Exit with Class: When the time comes, please carry out the separation with “class”. How you separate an employee, is a clear message that we send out to our people the real culture of the organization. No amount of Vision or Mission statement is going to help the organization, when we exit an employee with “coldness”.


Workforce management is about doing all of the above 365 days a year! You do all of the above to avoid the next letter, i.e. getting a "F" (for "Failure") to lead.

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