You’re probably pretty good at your job. For a moment, imagine if you weren’t. Imagine you were overwhelmed, undertrained, unmotivated, and less productive than you are now—far, far less productive.
Let’s say, I don’t know, 800% less productive?
Believe it or not, that’s the real, quantifiable difference between star performers and average employees in some jobs. The data comes from a recent McKinsey study of more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and athletes. In these specialized occupations, the best of the best are 400% more productive than their peers. According to the study’s authors, “the gap rises with a job’s complexity.” When it comes to the people on the extreme end of complexity—managers, software developers, and others engaged in “information- and interaction-intensive work”—the performance gap widens to 800%.
I’ll venture to say that the contrast is significant no matter what kind of work we’re talking about. On the low end, star performers in low-complexity jobs are 50% more productive than the average. No, it’s not as dramatic as 800%, but a 50% differential in productivity is nothing to ignore.
Clearly, it’s in every company’s best interest to motivate its star performers. Here are a few proven ways to get started, via business psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic: