If you want to get the most out of your employees, challenge the best of them to do even better. Focusing energy and time on the bad apples is a waste of time. The middling group will improve when they see the star performers improve. That’s the ETR philosophy.

Here’s one exception/addendum: Every so often (maybe once a year), select a handful of employees who are at the very top of the average range. Allocate a limited amount of time (one hour might be enough) to see if you can push one or two of them up a notch. Tell them that’s the purpose of the meeting.

And then ask them the following four questions:

1. “What are you doing now that you should stop doing?”

2. “What are you not doing that you should be doing?”

3. “What are you doing that you should do more of?”

4. “What are you doing that you should do less of?”

In each case, ask the employee to try to define — as specifically as possible — what would happen if he followed his own advice. Have him write it down. Ask him to report back to you on these things every month for six months.