Every successful business knows that its employees are its biggest asset.

As driven employees, we strive to be members of highly functioning teams.  Company management wants a highly effective team, everyone would seem to want the same thing yet it can be hard to achieve for a number of reasons.  Highly effective employees on great teams are the fundamental bedrock of all successful businesses.  But, what is the difference between an average team and an exceptional team?  A interesting discussion I had today about these differences prompted this post.

Are you an above average member of your team?

What makes someone a great technical team member, Is it deep knowledge of a technical subject?  Business application of said technology?  Ability to schmooze the boss?  Any of these things can lead a person to be known as a highly effective employee.  likewise inability to execute on any of these things (plus a host of others!) can lead someone to  be an average performer or worse an under performer.

What are you worth to your team?

Would you consider yourself 10% above average? 20%? , 50%?.  I’ve asked around and when most people are asked their self assessments are that they are at least 20% above average.  With that thought, as a business manager would you consider a 1% above average (what is average anyway ????) employee desirable?

Consider the math

As a team member at a reasonable sized organization lets say you are responsible for 50 Million$ in information (data for the DBA’s reading this).  If you are able to perform at a 1% higher level than average, you should be able to manage about 500K more than an average team member.  If somehow you managed the herculean task of being 20% better than average you’d be able to manage 10 Million$ more.  Likewise If you have a team member who is performing at a lower level , say 1% below average they’d only be able to manage 49.5 Million$.  20% below average and well, lets just say its a bad day to be responsible for 40 Million$.  If you extrapolate those numbers further and compound them yearly for a few years the 1% better employee Vs the 1% underperformer would look something like this

The 1% high performer nets $51,515,050

while the 1% underperforming employee nets $48,514,950

Thats a 3 Million dollar difference for a 1% above average performance. (not bad!!)

End result is the same

The next time you’re debating with your boss about the value you bring to your team, it can be helpful to point out the math especially if you can make a reasonable leap to huge numbers like billions of dollars in assets and 2% above average Vs 1% below.  1 great employee who brings tons to the table and say works at a 5% above average range is potentially worth more than the entire rest of an under-performing team.  Of course, asking your boss for a 500K raise might not go over well either but If you are lucky enough to be able to tie your work product to actual company revenue, this is a great way to show the leaders in your organization how important it is to hire good people, even if they are ONLY better than average by 1%