a practical guide to improve your employees’ performance

It was a hot afternoon on the 4th of July 2001, and the annual Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest was about to begin. The crowd had come to watch the contestants eat as many hotdogs as possible. The world recorded stood at 25 and 1/8. Surrounded by contestants from around the world, some three times his size, Takeru Kobayashi, a slightly built Japanese student, stepped on stage. In moments, he would change competitive eating forever.

Takeru Kobayashi was from Nagano, Japan, where a year before, one of his friends enrolled him in a competitive eating contest as a gag. Kobayashi decided to take it seriously and outpaced his competitors and won. Enjoying the experience, he set his sight on becoming the best competitive eater in the world and winning the highly regarded Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest. It was a big leap, but he realized if he thought of competitive eating as a sport and analyzed the process of eating, he could win.

At first, he changed the way he ate the hot dog, breaking it into two, which gave him more options for chewing and allowed his hands to be free for improved loading. He spent hours videotaping his practices, trying out different techniques. The game-changer came when he developed the hot dog dip, dunking the hot dog, and roll into a cup of water before he ate it. It was not pretty, but it worked[i].

On July 4th, 2001, he destroyed the world record of 25 hotdogs by eating 50. The other contestants were amazed; one said, “When he reached 31, I was on 12, I just took off my shirt and raised the white flag.” For the next six years, he won Nathan’s Yellow Mustard Belt recognizing him as the fastest hot dog eater in the world[ii].

I believe we can use the same technique to improve employee performance.

Over my career, I have study employee performance, at first from an employee’s perspective, and then as a manager, and finally as a leader of a 350 staff department with a six-million-dollar budget. If you think of your organization as a high-powered car, then our employees’ performance is the engine. If you improve their performance, your organization can exceed your expectations.

Like Kobayashi, I have analyzed the foundational levers of employee performance. Through The Employee Performance Project, I plan to share my knowledge and to work with others to increase our understanding of employee performance. In my research, I have discovered the eight foundational levers of employee success that we must activate to achieve better outcomes. They are direction, awareness, intentionality, practice, measurement, energy, support, and community. When activated in tandem, these levers can be a powerful force for positive change in an organization.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.