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Behavior Patterns and Performance

Cookie JarYou don't have to be a psychic to read a person's body language. In most cases, it's pretty darn easy to tell if someone is upset, frustrated, or just got caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar. Likewise, you don't need to be an FBI profiler to understand a person's thinking and behavior patterns. You just need to process what you observe without your emotions and preconceived conclusions filtering out what you really need to see.

When observing patterns of behavior, you want to hear everything that wise little voice in your head has to say. Think about all those employees you hired that didn't work out. I bet you observed behavior patterns early on that were true indicators of soon-to-be performance issues. I bet you even remember ignoring or discounting those early behavior warning signs. Sometimes, leaders just see what they want to see - or accept flaws with the hope that they're just anomalies.

An employee's behavior patterns either enhance or degrade performance. The same goes for a leader's behavior patterns. For example, in coaching, we document each time a client is late for a call, no-shows for a call, or cancels last minute. This behavior is typically an indicator of the leader's behavior in their company. We then use the behavior patterns to coach the leader to respect the value of time and how it either enhances or degrades their ability to lead.

Here are some no-compromise insights on observing and understanding patterns of behavior:

  • It is what it is: It's never an anomaly. An anomaly is an irregularity - something out of the norm. When it comes to human beings, a questionable behavior pattern is rarely an anomaly. If you catch someone stealing pencils from the company because the employee thinks it's no big deal ... that's a pattern of behavior you cannot ignore. Same goes for lateness, ignoring policies, egotism, excuse making, poor follow through, disrespect, and many more. Lesson: The more you ignore these behavior patterns the more you tolerate the intolerable. No-compromise leaders do not and cannot tolerate intolerable behavior.

  • Scale of one to ten: Think of this as your own Richter magnitude scale, only instead of measuring earthquakes, you're measuring the severity of behavior patterns. You may be fine with a four and under, but anything five or higher is going to rattle your world. Behavior patterns that are a five or six are probably coachable. Seven and up are doing serious damage to your company's performance, culture, and brand. Lesson: Identifying and ranking questionable behavior patterns is the most effective means of preventing toxic behavior from infecting your company's culture.

  • Coachable or not: Some people are coachable; others are not. It's a delight to coach people that are open to improving their performance and achieving their full potential. Coaching people that have their shields up and push back on efforts to improve their performance (and therefore their growth potential) is a leadership nemesis. Nothing is worse than coaching the passive aggressive. You think you're getting through only to discover the questionable behavior patterns continue. Lesson: Leaders must determine if it's worth investing the time, energy, and resources to address behavior patterns. If repeated patience and coaching efforts fail to address the issue, it is time to decide if the employee needs to go.

  • What the No-Compromise Leader must do: Continuing to pay for performance and behavior that is unacceptable is a compromise. You are rewarding the wrong behavior patterns and therefore enabling it to continue. The longer it continues, the harder it is to change. Too many leaders hang onto employees that are great at generating revenue at the expense of the team and the wellbeing of the company culture. Lesson: As a leader, you must put your emotional fears and procrastination aside in order to decide what is best for the company. All eyes are on you. This is when you must let the leader in you stand tall. No compromise.


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