Because layoffs have created a larger, more competitive pool of candidates, recruiters have an opportunity to borrow a sports analogy and replace struggling workers with superior performers in key jobs. You can overcome managerial inertia by calculating the long-term economic consequences of keeping a below-average performer, compared with the increased performance level of an above-average performer, John Sullivan says. "If you carefully calculate the dollar value of the performance differential between a top performer and the 'targeted' below-average performer, you will often find that it's two or three times greater, resulting in over $100,000 annual difference in output."

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