Where Do You Spend Your Time?

The theory goes that you spend your time where you receive the greatest return. Successful salespeople, for example, focus their time and attention on customers who buy, or will buy, the most products from them.

However, this principle appears to take a different turn when it comes to managing a team. It seems that managers often invest more time handling low or marginal performers rather than nurturing those who offer the greatest return.

So, how should you allocate your time wisely? Let’s delve into different categories of workers and consider how much time each deserves.


Stars are your team’s crème de la crème – the top performers and arguably your greatest assets. Representing around ten percent of the workforce, these solid players with stellar attitudes often fly under the radar because they’re rarely a source of problems. However, neglecting their support can be perilous, as competitors may seize the opportunity to snatch them up.


Every organization requires its workhorses – the rank-and-file employees who diligently keep their heads down, demonstrate dependability and loyalty, and do the job required. Representing the largest percentage of most workforces, these employees contribute depth and stability to the organization.

Hot Prospects

Embedded within the rank-and-file, hot prospects are hard-working, competent individuals who, with encouragement and coaching, could ascend to the top. Identifying these rising stars is best achieved through regular performance management and open communication, allowing managers to uncover their future career goals.


Newcomers to the organization, or ‘newbies,’ bring fresh perspectives and presumably have ample potential, or else they wouldn’t have been hired. Given their novice status, they require substantial time and attention. However, it’s crucial to note that no one remains a ‘newbie’ for longer than six months.

Time Wasters

Often dubbed the ‘problem child’ of the organization, time wasters are marginal performers at best. They bring a host of distractions to the workplace, distracting not only themselves but also co-workers and managers from meaningful work. Dealing with their constant need for attention and perpetual complaints can be a drain on managerial resources.

Lost Causes

Also known as deadwood, these are low performers with negative attitudes who consume more time than they contribute. Traditional coaching and training rarely yield positive results with these individuals, and you should consider ensuring these people leave the organization as quickly as possible.

What To Do

I would suggest that you find a way to spend most of your time focused on ‘stars,’ ‘rank-and-file’ (particularly the hot prospects) and ‘newbies.’ ‘Time wasters’ and ‘lost causes’ deserve no time unless it is spent helping them find another job outside your company.

There are many things you can do. Your greatest returns will come from holding regular check-ins, acknowledging and celebrating achievements, providing frequent performance feedback, offering training and learning opportunities, supporting their work-life balance, facilitating networking opportunities, and mentoring.

In essence, the key is to individualize your approach based on the needs and aspirations of each employee. Regular, open communication, combined with targeted support, keeps stars motivated, rank-and-file employees satisfied, and newbies on a trajectory toward success.