Becoming a star
We conducted a long-term study evaluating how productive engineers were before and after they had learned star work strategies by going through our productivity improvement program. Currently called Breakthrough, this program has been taught for the past seven years to over 1000 people in many companies not only in the United States but in Europe as well. It is licensed to professional training companies and is being used in universities both in the classroom and for staff development
As a basis for our evaluation, we met with managers, star performers, and average workers, asking them to list the factors indicative of increased productivity in a person working in their departments. Several iterations ensured that people who rated highly on these factors were indeed highly productive.
Then we asked direct managers to rate 300 participants and 300 nonparticipants on this list of productivity factors, once before the training sessions began and a second time eight months after finishing the program.
On the basis of these managerial evaluations, program participants were found to have increased their rate of productivity improvement significantly. The engineers who went through the program solved problems faster, produced higher-quality work, and consistently impressed their customers.
The star strategies program is not a remedial course for poor performers. About 30 percent of the participants taking part in our productivity improvement programs already were wearing the star producer label. Their productivity gains have been similarly impressive.
The most dramatic changes were in the ranks of women and minorities, according to their bosses’ pre- and post-evaluations. Their productivity improvement rates shot up 400 percent on average.
The success of these groups underscores a key finding in our work. Becoming highly productive does not require magic. When engineers produce at undistinguished levels, it is seldom because they are less capable–it is because they never learned the work strategies that lead to high productivity. Once these engineers are given access to the star strategies, their productivity takes off.
Author :Robert E. Kelley
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