Did you know that something like 90% of drivers think they are above average drivers? Almost half of them are wrong.
50% of doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class? Does that scare you?
Many, maybe even most, business owners think they have above average employees… that their employees are their competitive advantage.
The Average Versus The Mean
Average: Add up the individual measures of each sample and divide by the total sample size.
Mean: The value for which half the sample is above or below.
It is quite likely that the average and mean are not the same numbers.
Back to the Examples
When you are looking at the entire sample of drivers and rating them on driving skill, exactly half are above and below the middle or mean.
We tend to overrate our own skills when the scale is something subjective and everyone must have a bases skill just to do it successfully; in this case remaining alive.
We do this in hiring too.
In the case of doctors, there is a bit of a difference though. To get into medical school there are some requirements and standards in place. Things like already having a pre-med degree and minimum grade levels. Then you have to complete medical school and your internship.
So you have to qualify. Then meet the standards of the program. Then do the practice and put in your time.
So even the bottom half of the class is actually pretty good by the time they get through.
The mean is shifted upwards compared to the general comparison population.
Except for a few that somehow make it through but should not have of course. There are often exceptions in every group.
Applying That To Your Business
Most businesses actually try to hire based on the mathematical averages and means. But so is everyone else. So at most you are slightly above average using this approach. The reason is that the hiring process itself is not very reliable. Some say not much better than 50/50.
The trick is to raise the bar at all stages.
In hiring you must always:
- Set your minimum standards well above average,
- Hire for culture and values, and
- Hire people who can learn, adapt and are coachable.
Then after they are on board and ongoing forever and ever:
- Educate, train, coach and mentor,
- Evaluate and measure performance and fit,
- Re-evaluate business requirement and roles,
- Weed out or reallocate those who don’t fit through either bad hiring or the inevitable changes.
It is the second step that most companies miss.
The performance of your team will still vary. But your mean will be above the industry mean. You will even have a few turkeys at times. Recognize and deal with it.
And over time if you don’t do those things regularly, you will end up at average no matter how well you started out.
So set the bar high, and keep it high by having a culture of continuous education, training, coaching and mentoring. Strive for excellence.
That is how you raise the bar and create an above average or a higher-performing mean organization.