How to learn from the star performers (no matter how big your frontline is!)

How to learn from the star performers (no matter how big your frontline is!)

Your friendly neighbourhood Customer Success Associate is back! I’ve already talked about how you can identify star performers without visiting every location, even when your workforce numbers in the thousands. But what should you do once you single out these magical employees, locations, or regions? 

It’s time to tap into their knowledge and best practices so that you can share these across the business. 

But how do you do this?

Here is my 4-step plan for capturing great ideas and best practices from your star performers – no matter how large your organization is. 

1. Ask them  

The first step in learning from your star performers is simply asking them – and, of course, establishing a process for gathering this information. 

Make it clear that your business is seeking input from these frontline workers. Letting them know that you want and value their opinions will start this process out on the right foot and ensure that you’ve put idea creation on your employees’ radar. Pro tip: rather than throwing out a blanket statement of “we want ideas”, be sure to define the areas in which you need support. This will help direct their innovation and ensure you get the absolute most from them. 

2. Launch an ideas forum (specifically for star performers!)

We’ve talked before about the value of employee forums when it comes to capturing the great ideas your star performers have to share. Why? Employees need a space they can go to where they know their ideas and knowledge will be seen, considered and actioned. Nothing is more demotivating to high performing individuals than being asked for ideas only to have them fall into a black hole (more on that later). 

But here, I’m going to suggest creating a dedicated space on your communications platform, Intranet, or other channel, to share exclusively with the workers, locations, or regions you’ve identified as top performers. On Nudge, I love setting up an ideas forum where top performers have space to let their knowledge fly and share it with other top performers. This ideation only spurs more ideation. The pinnacle of sourcing best practices from your high performing workers is having them drive other top performers to improve and better themselves. Top performers helping other top performers can exponentially grow their knowledge and abilities.

3. Offer rewards and recognition for innovation

Offering employee rewards and recognition to star performers for their hard work can only help them improve themselves and the company at large. It’s also one of the best ways to get employees to share their ideas. 

“(High performers) need to feel the love,” explains leadership expert Sara Canaday in a recent article for LinkedIn. “Giving them a tangible sign of appreciation will make them feel valued and reinforce the message that they play a critical role for the team and the organization overall.”

My go-to as a CSA at Nudge is recognizing associates on the app for all their peers to see. This way, you benefit by: 

  1. Recognizing the associate
  2. Promoting the desired behavior or idea

You can also accomplish this outcome in your company newsletter, social platform, or in employee meetings. Through all of this, the goal is to not take your high-performing employees for granted. They work hard and accomplish a lot for the organization; you should acknowledge their successes wherever possible, and make sure their scalable successes and ideas don’t go uncelebrated.

4. Action the ideas

There are a few ways to action great ideas and employee feedback. But because a lot of the insights you’ll collect from your star performers are best practices, that’s what we’ll talk about here. 

The first step in actioning best practices from your star performers is to share them as far and wide as you can. If you take one thing away from this article, it should be this tip: it will be more impactful when these best practices come from “one of them” rather than distilled from Head Office. This is something that many companies struggle with. They’re always looking to optimize top-down or bottom-up communication, but fail to see the gold mine that is inter-colleague sharing. You can tell your employees 100 times to perform a task a certain way, but when they hear a tip or trick from a colleague, they’re more likely to take it in and remember it. The impact can be meteoric. 

Work with your star performers to share their ideas using any (or all!) tools you use to connect with your frontline – app, email, company newsletter, social platforms or employee meetings. Even shout it from the rooftops of HQ. Just be sure to spotlight the most helpful and actionable insights for the frontline to see. Recognizing employees and attributing these ideas, tips and tricks to them, will help validate not only the employee themselves, but the idea as well. 

Once you’ve shared your top performers’ ideas, be sure to follow up and check for compliance. Whether you have your managers monitoring in-store or you simply poll the frontline, it’s always helpful to check in and see the effect. This can also help you course correct as you go. Re-testing on knowledge and behavior not only allows us to identify top performers but those on the lower end of the spectrum as well – those that could use some additional support and mentorship. 

The ultimate goal with sharing best practices from your star performers is to create a culture of continuous learning, improvement and collaboration. What you really want is to establish trust with your employees and show them that their actions and ideas have real influence and meaning. Sharing these insights has countless benefits – for the high performer and for the frontline in general. The knowledge will help all employees grow into leaders by providing insights and access to these more experienced individuals, while also giving high-performing employees recognition and responsibility. 

6 ways to identify top performers (without visiting every location)

6 ways to identify top performers (without visiting every location)

We’re always looking to drive better business outcomes. Sales. CX. Retention – you name it. As one of Nudge’s Customer Success Associates, I’m constantly working with customers to propel those KPIs forward. And time after time, I’m seeing that the secret sauce to driving these key business initiatives – and ensuring continued growth and success on the frontline – comes down to your top-performing employees. 

But here’s where it gets tricky. You may have thousands, hundreds of thousands, or (why not?) millions of employees across the country, or even the world. How do you identify your top performers? How do you find the fabled needle in the haystack? Now you may have figured out how to clone yourself and accomplish this daunting task without breaking a sweat (if so, what’s your secret?!). But for the rest of us – how do you identify your top performers without spending time in every location? 

Your friendly neighborhood CS team and Nudge has concluded, after many trials and experiments, that the solution lies in workforce insights. Leveraging these analytics lets you point to top-performing regions, locations, and individual employees, without ever leaving your desk. And once this information is harvested and analyzed, you’re left with a blueprint for success. 

In this article, we’ll walk through several proven data points that will allow you to gain a better understanding of high potential performers and active high performers within your workforce, no matter how large. 

Read on for this exalted treasure map 🗺.

Data point #1: Knowledge

Having an avenue to check in on employee knowledge can be a game changer. If you’re looking to identify your top performing employees, measuring their knowledge surrounding products, policies and procedures is a great place to start. If you’re using a digital communication platform (ahem – I can recommend a great one 💁🏻‍♂️), then you’ll be able to track this through skill-testing surveys and knowledge retention questions.  

Deskless workers that show they’re on top of product information are more likely to be able to help customers and sell that product better. Those that show they know the steps to follow to perform a critical process, are more likely to perform that process efficiently and effectively. Take a look at the knowledge data available to you, and let it start you on the journey to finding your star players. 

Data point #2: Task Completion

Monitoring task completion allows you to track who accomplishes tasks time and time again, showing consistency of behavior. Additionally, this data point allows you to determine a vital quality of top performers – motivation. I’ve often found that top performers are self-motivated to perform their job and the requisite tasks. Rather than routinely requiring reminders, top performers are their own catalysts. 

Again, monitoring task completion at a company-wide level requires a more sophisticated communication platform or task management system. But when you consistently monitor behavior completion, you’re able to gain tremendously valuable information on who is driving the ship, and who is only along for the ride. Nudge these users in the right direction and they’ll fly forward. 

Data point #3: Readiness

When I’m working with a customer, we look at “Readiness” as a magical intersection of user confidence, execution, and knowledge. We use this metric to identify locations and frontline employees that are ready for an upcoming task, whether it be a new promotion, product launch, or marketing initiative. When employees are consistently “ready”, they can be flagged as top performers on their team, uniquely positioned to drive outcomes and lead by example from within. 

Each one of these data points – confidence, behavior execution, and knowledge – can be used to individually determine top performers. But when you look at them all together, what you see is proven performance.

Data point #4: Peer-to-peer recognition

Another way to identify top performers is by letting your employees do the work for you. Let the number of peer-to-peer recognitions an associate receives highlight them as top performing employees. Who better to identify those that go above and beyond than the individuals working around them, day in and day out? At Nudge, we often look at key pieces of recognition to help us flag the true gold-star employees:

  • Going the extra mile
  • Excelling at their job
  • Demonstrating that they are eager to help out
  • Inspiring everyone to come together and work through difficult tasks
  • Making work a little easier with positivity
  • Making a positive impact through their teaching or guidance

When employees are recognized for these qualities and actions by their peers, we can be sure that they are exemplifying these attributes, even when senior leadership isn’t watching.

Data point #5: Customer Recognition

You can also go one step further and take a look at customer recognition. Customers have no skin in the game, and are recognizing frontline workers purely for going above and beyond in creating a memorable experience. In other words, they recognize top performers. 

Measuring the number of positive comments and experiences customers have with an associate can be tricky. But if you nail it, you’ll have pure first-hand observations about your employee pool. Go high-tech with a customer experience platform, or low-tech with a comment box at each location that gets sent back to head office. As long as you’re receiving feedback, it’s a win! 

Data point #6: Sales Data

Taking a look at the cold hard numbers on who sold (or upsold) what can be a great indicator of high performance. Whether you’re interested in CVR, total revenue, or anything in between, you’re able to take a look at who is driving the metrics you prioritize without the risk of your own internal bias or leanings. 

I like to take this data and recognize associates publicly with rewards or even additional points on Nudge – creating a positive feedback loop and encouraging even more of that desired behavior in top performing employees.  

While each of these notes in and of itself can provide insight, when you look at all of these together? A symphony of high performance. In the end, providing a clear picture of the employees to tap at a scalable, company level can be a huge driver of your business performance and goals.

4 reasons to encourage employee idea sharing

4 reasons to encourage employee idea sharing

Working in Customer Success at Nudge, we talk about deskless employee communication a lot.

A. Lot.

You might even say we have a bit of an axe to grind with ineffective communication. Fortunately, the world of siloed locations and fractured organizations is a thing of the past when you’ve got an amazing communication tool that connects frontline employees to head office (too soon for the hard sell? 😏 ).

But when we’re talking about communication, there’s one thing that organizations often forget about: idea sharing. It goes by other names: best practice sharing, upward feedback, idea harvesting. Whatever you call it, it’s an integral part of any organization’s effective employee communication strategy – and sadly, a part that gets overlooked.

But when you finally allow for ideas to flow freely, magic happens – as a CSA, I see it all the time. Here are 4 reasons that every organization should encourage idea sharing across their teams:

1. Identify and fill knowledge gaps

One way that sharing best practices can help your organization is through the identification (and patching) of knowledge gaps. When teams can share best practices, it provides the opportunity for other employees to self-identify and correct gaps in their knowledge and capabilities. Employees can recognize their own areas of weakness and address them before head office needs to step in. 

Here’s an example: one location of a retail brand has discovered a next-level merchandising technique that is making a product fly off the shelves – so they share the idea with other locations across the country. Maybe at one location, the associates look at the idea and think, Woah…We’ve set up this merchandising all wrong! Or even, We haven’t even set up the merchandising for this product yet! From there, the location can address their knowledge gap and fix their display – without head office ever stepping in. That’s the magic happening. 

Should this self-identification among workers fail, sharing best practices still leaves the door wide open for managers to recognize these gaps within their team, and correct them – and the same goes for executives at a company-wide level. When employees, managers, and organizations can implement strategies to expose and address these gaps, they improve productivity company-wide.

2. Generate new (and sales-boosting!) ideas

Maybe what your organization needs is a spark of creativity. Sometimes the pure legacy of head office can impact a company’s ability to see the more creative or innovative ideas. Luckily, sharing best practices is the kindling that ignites this fire – from the frontline.

Historically, when the head office wants to, say, increase sales of add-on item X, they would ask managers to discuss strategies for promoting this item with their teams, believing this is where employees need to improve. This doesn’t lead to really forward-thinking ideas. 

Now imagine corporate wants to increase sales of add-on item Y, so they start an open forum directly with their frontline workers to discuss promotion strategies. Free from the archetypical constraints of the corporate hierarchy, your deskless workers are able to think outside the box. Not only are these employees tapped into the pulse of the customer or guest, but they have firsthand knowledge of where process improvements can be made. 

This type of upward feedback with actionable idea generation is worth its weight in gold if it means that the company can implement this change – and see a swift lift in sales. (Golf Town is a great example of this!)

3. Create and strengthen a supportive workplace community

As a CSA, I’ve seen time and time again that frontline employees have an intense desire to build a community. I’ve had the opportunity to help countless workplace communities come together, and I’ve found that by simply providing a space for them to do so, workforces innately form this workplace community of their own accord. 

That’s where idea sharing comes into play. When companies allow for information to be shared, it breeds this sense of collaboration and community between employees and teams. Idea sharing acts as an almost instinctual way for employees to form this close-knit community, nurturing that sense of “we’re all in this together,” which in turn boosts engagement and loyalty. 

Also: every employee brings different skills, talents and perspectives. Sharing their unique knowledge and points of view can also help one employee leverage the talents of another to improve on their own challenge areas. 

Without an avenue to make this community-building organic, collaboration on this scale – across locations, states, provinces and countries – is almost impossible.

4. Gain a line of sight into employee morale and engagement

Idea sharing also gives head office a line of sight into morale, employee sentiment, and engagement on a level that would otherwise be concealed. While sharing best practices is powerful in its own right, providing this type of insight into morale and engagement is a compelling facet of this opportunity in and of itself. 

With idea sharing processes in place, corporate teams are able to easily identify locations that aren’t engaging in the process, and target them for additional support. If sharing drops off, it can also act as a flag for corporate to come in and energize their teams. 

In other words: idea sharing allows head office to tap into the spirit and attitude of the frontline. You can gain a sense of team morale and outlook, and shine a light onto the esprit de corps to help address issues when needed.  It’s not clairvoyance, but it’s about as close as you can get. 

Idea sharing reveals so many advantages and opportunities otherwise invisible and untapped in organizations. Ignoring the possibilities that come with opening up your organization and allowing your deskless workforce to be heard is tantamount to keeping a treasure buried when you’re holding the map in your hands. 

Whether your frontline requires knowledge gaps to be patched, a community to be strengthened, or efficiencies and competencies to be reinforced, idea sharing can be your guide. 

Proven ROI of 484%

Forrester Consulting's Total Economic Impact™ study found a 484% ROI with Nudge!*

*over three years.