Heera Training & Management Consultants

eNewsletter October 2006

Dear Everyone,
Hi! And how are you all? Firstly, I am sure that you have noticed a change in the format of the newsletter. Yes, my company has undergone a change in branding. The logo has changed, the tag line has changed and the colors have changed. Why?? Firstly, I believe, there is a constant need to improve and rejuvenate a brand. Secondly, I think this is more professional and has been designed more artistically. I really like it and the branding has also included my website and my business cards. I am in the process of changing my training folders, notes etc.  I must admit that I never knew that a brand change like this can encompass so much of work. It is definitely worth it however.
The highlight of September was my presentation of a paper entitled “Talent Management – Nurturing and Retaining your Best Employees”, at the PSMB (HRDF) conference at the Sunway Convention Centre on 5th September. In the course of the talk, one of the things I touched on was this analogy about stallions and donkeys. I began this analogy by saying that you need a combination of stallions (high performers) and donkeys (plodders) in all organizations. 

Stallions and Donkeys Analogy

There are however some things you need to be aware of when managing stallions and donkeys in the context of Talent Management. These are:   

  • Stallions (high performers) are the ones who will win races for you. However they do not come cheap. They are also expensive to maintain as they need special veterinary care, vitamins, air-conditioned stables etc. They are however worth it as they ‘win’ races for you which brings in the dollars (One idea or a new process created by a high performer can save you millions or on the other hand make you millions). On the other hand, donkeys given the same ‘special treatment’ will never ever win races for you. In his article, ‘The True Value of Hiring and Retaining Top Performers’, author Dr John Sullivan (a top HR specialist in the US) states that “Top performers exceed the performance of average performers by at least 25%”. When you translate that into dollars and cents it can be very big money.
  • Never recruit a stallion and use it to carry heavy loads. That is not its primary function and if you continue to do so you will turn him into a donkey or he will leave. You are also wasting talent and skills. On the other hand, never recruit a donkey and then think that through the process of training and development or other methods that you can make him win races. It will never ever happen and is definitely not worth the time and effort! 
  • Stallions want to be treated like stallions. They know that they can win races and therefore know that they are special. They also know that they are very marketable which may make them a little conceited. Accept their egos. It is a small price to pay for excellence. When you treat them like donkeys, they get de-motivated which in turn results in them not winning races or else they leave.
  • It is easy to convert a stallion into a donkey by mismanaging him, de-motivating him etc. On the other hand, try as he may, even David Copperfield will not be able to convert a donkey into a stallion.
  • NEVER, EVER allow a donkey to manage stallions. He will soon convert all the stallions into donkeys. Curt Coffman, lead researcher at Gallup says that “If you have a turnover problem look first to your managers,” he asserts. “People leave managers, not companies.”
  • Lastly, identify the stallions in your organization and do all you can to keep them. It’s okay to allow the donkeys to leave. Donkeys are easily replaceable, stallions are not.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I do hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have had in writing it. Until my next newsletter, please do take care.

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Heera Singh
Principal Consultant
HEERA Training and Management Consultancy
HP 0126083708