When great performance masks compromise

May 20, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

During a seminar on staff retention, the discussion focused on how to address performance and/or behavior issues with top employees. I could quickly see everyone’s discomfort meter red lining because all leaders have a tendency to take the easier compromise route than seek no-compromise solutions. The reason for the discomfort meter red lining is the fear that a top employee may quit if pushed to follow the same rules and standards other employees must adhere to. It’s even more difficult when personal relationships come into play.
The challenge is simple: a “top employee” means that he or she truly excels in his or her area of responsibility and contribution to the company. But what happens if some seemingly minor performance or behavior issues surface and tend to linger? During the discussion, one leader said, “I have an employee who is simply stellar – but is habitually late for work.” In this case, the top performer was a major revenue producer. After discussing the “stellar” employee’s lateness and why it needs to be addressed, the leader reluctantly added, “This stellar employee is our general manager – and she’s taking care of our dog while we’re gone.” So, we have a “stellar” employee who is a top producer, the general manager and has become a personal friend. These facts certainly grease the skids for compromise.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to address double-standard behaviors with top employees:
* Own your role in allowing “entitlement” behavior: Yes, there was a point when the issues in question could have been addressed – but weren’t. You allowed it to continue and now you’re the only one that can fix it. This is not all your “stellar” employee’s fault. This instantly removes the “blame game” from the conversation.
* Level the playing field: Your “stellar” employee fully realizes that he or she has been practicing entitlement behavior. Since top employees are typically mentors or role models for others, they also fully realize they have been enjoying a double standard at the expense of their fellow teammates. As leader, you must engage their support to level the playing field. Loyal employees, most likely with some coaching, will support you. If not, do they really belong on your team? Have they ever belonged on your team?
* Accountability and clarifying expectations: When leveling the playing field, you must clarify in detail your expectations. Your top employees must understand what they must change, what they must do, how you will support them – and how you will hold them accountable. Most of all, they must understand the consequences for not rising to the challenge. Yes, something as elementary as a leader afflicted with chronic lateness should know that continuing to be late could result in a demotion. Continued behavior issues could also be grounds for termination. Heck, if a “stellar” employee in a leadership role is willing to lose her job because she cannot get to work on time, grant her wish.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

During a seminar on staff retention, the discussion focused on how to address performance and/or behavior issues with top employees. I could quickly see everyone’s discomfort meter red lining because all leaders have a tendency to take the easier compromise route than seek no-compromise solutions. The reason for the discomfort meter red lining is the fear that a top employee may quit if pushed to follow the same rules and standards other employees must adhere to. It’s even more difficult when personal relationships come into play.... Read More

During a seminar on staff retention, the discussion focused on how to address performance and/or behavior issues with top employees. I could quickly see everyone’s discomfort meter red lining because all leaders have a tendency to take the easier compromise route than seek no-compromise solutions. The reason for the discomfort meter red lining is the fear that a top employee may quit if pushed to follow the same rules and…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Are double standards… your standard?

May 19, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Double standards communicate that there are “entitlement” rules and acceptable behaviors for some while others must adhere to more rigid rules. Fact: Double standards compromise the values of a company. Double standards create performance drag and contaminate the culture of a company. Most importantly, even the slightest existence of double standards perpetuates entitlement thinking and behavior. And who is the originating source of double standards? You guessed it, the leader – and that means you.

Double standards for leaders: This is the classic “do as I say, not as I do” thinking. It’s when leaders use their positions of power to compromise what they hold others accountable for doing. For example, consider how the integrity and trust of a company can be compromised when the leader orders expense reductions and pulls up in a new company car or takes a vacation cleverly disguised as a business trip. Even seemingly little behaviors like always being late for meetings while others are held accountable can contaminate a company culture. (more…)... Read More

Double standards communicate that there are “entitlement” rules and acceptable behaviors for some while others must adhere to more rigid rules. Fact: Double standards compromise the values of a company. Double standards create performance drag and contaminate the culture of a company. Most importantly, even the slightest existence of double standards perpetuates entitlement thinking and behavior. And who is the originating source of double standards? You guessed it, the leader…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

What are you building?

May 19, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Stop what you’re doing for a few minutes. Stop thinking about what your day is going to look like, what you need to accomplish, and what challenges you need to deal with. Trust me, all that stuff will be waiting for you. What I would like you to imagine is taking a look at your business from 30,000 feet. It’s an interesting perspective because this high altitude view gets you above the fray where it’s quiet and all the surrounding landscape, complete with opportunities and threats, is visible for you to study. This vantage point provides an unobstructed view of where you’re taking your company. Most of all, it allows you to see if what you’re building is capable of getting you there.
You see, too often leaders get bogged down in the daily minutia of their work. It’s something akin to trying to drive the bus while keeping the kids under control and fixing the sputtering engine all at the same time. It doesn’t matter if you love this kind of chaotic excitement or not, it pulls your attention away from your ultimate no-compromise leader responsibility – to build an enduring company.
So while I have your attention up here at 30,000 feet for these few Monday Morning Wake-Up minutes, ask yourself this question: What are you building? Describe with absolute clarity where you are taking your company. Describe what the company looks like in terms of revenue and profit. Describe what makes your company so unique that it stands alone from its competition. Describe the career and growth opportunities for all those employees who got on your bus and believe in your vision. Describe the culture you’re building and how trust, integrity and respect form its foundation. Now, how do your descriptions match what you have built so far?
Too often it takes a nice big crisis to snap you out of your daily routine so you can step back and look at what you’re building. It’s also interesting how many leaders struggle to answer with passion and clarity the question, “What are you building?” And in that moment of discomfort and struggle to find words and clarity, the solution to a multitude of problems is revealed. Revisit what you’re building and make sure everyone on your bus gets it.
I’ll conclude with this wonderful story: A gentleman saw three men laying bricks. He approached the first and asked, “What are you doing?” Annoyed, the first man answered, “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m laying bricks!” He walked over to the second bricklayer and asked the same question. The second man responded, “Oh, I’m making a living.” He asked the third bricklayer the same question, “What are you doing?” The third looked up, smiled and said, “I’m building a cathedral.”
What are you building?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO, and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Stop what you’re doing for a few minutes. Stop thinking about what your day is going to look like, what you need to accomplish, and what challenges you need to deal with. Trust me, all that stuff will be waiting for you. What I would like you to imagine is taking a look at your business from 30,000 feet. It’s an interesting perspective because this high altitude view gets you above the fray where it’s quiet and all the surrounding landscape, complete with opportunities and threats, is visible for you to study. This vantage point provides an unobstructed view of where you’re taking your company. Most of all, it allows you to see if what you’re building is capable of getting you there.... Read More

Stop what you’re doing for a few minutes. Stop thinking about what your day is going to look like, what you need to accomplish, and what challenges you need to deal with. Trust me, all that stuff will be waiting for you. What I would like you to imagine is taking a look at your business from 30,000 feet. It’s an interesting perspective because this high altitude view gets you…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

These days… it’s great to be a leader

May 14, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

What a great time it is to be a leader. We’re in a recession. Money and cash flow is on everyone’s mind. Employees are nervous. The stock market tanked. Customers are cautious, delaying purchases and looking for better deals. And… you’ve probably made some of your toughest leadership decisions in years. So why is this a great time to be a leader? The answer is extraordinarily simple – you are in control of your own destiny.
In these unprecedented and uncertain economic times, I cherish, respect and thrive in my role as the leader of my own company. I find solace knowing that my business experience, innovativeness, ability to identify and react to real and potential hazards, allows me to guide my company through tough times. I’m energized by the trust and support of my team. I am a leader and I wouldn’t trade my job or my responsibilities for anything.
Yes, we leaders must deal with stress and make decisions that thrust us out of our comfort zones. We can feel overwhelmed and overloaded. And yes, at times we may even feel unprepared, insecure and fearful. But as leaders, we know it’s all part of the job. We persevere. We overcome. We lead.
Here are some simple reminders why it’s great to be a leader:
* If it is to be, it’s up to me: That’s the essence of leadership. We control our own destinies. We can take our companies to any goal we set our minds on. We wait for no one. We can seize the moment. What greater freedom, growth and success could you ask for?
* You have followers that trust and believe in you: What an honor and privilege it is to be a leader – to have loyal followers that believe in and work to achieve a vision that’s your creation. What more could you ask for?
* You inspire others to reach their full potential: As a leader, you help others achieve their dreams. You bring out the best in people. You take people to levels of success that even they didn’t realize they could achieve. You make the lives of those around you better. What more could you ask for?
* Today is your time to be your best: Good times can cause leaders to get off their game and become content and lazy. Uncertain times bring out the best in leaders. Uncertain times challenge you to prove that you’ve got the right stuff. Uncertain times shift you into no-compromise leadership mode. It’s your opportunity to fix what’s wrong in your business. It’s your opportunity to innovate and lift your company to that next level you’ve always talked about. What more could you ask for?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CE

What a great time it is to be a leader. We’re in a recession. Money and cash flow is on everyone’s mind. Employees are nervous. The stock market tanked. Customers are cautious, delaying purchases and looking for better deals. And… you’ve probably made some of your toughest leadership decisions in years. So why is this a great time to be a leader? The answer is extraordinarily simple – you are in control of your own destiny.
... Read More

What a great time it is to be a leader. We’re in a recession. Money and cash flow is on everyone’s mind. Employees are nervous. The stock market tanked. Customers are cautious, delaying purchases and looking for better deals. And… you’ve probably made some of your toughest leadership decisions in years. So why is this a great time to be a leader? The answer is extraordinarily simple – you are…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

What’s on your “compromise” list?

May 12, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Every leader has one. It’s that list of leadership projects, tasks and responsibilities that you prefer to avoid, ignore or bestow with your highest level of procrastination.

It is truly amazing how you can find a zillion other low level things to do rather than tackle your compromise list and check a few items off. Call it human nature, fear of the unknown, insecurity, lack of knowledge or skill, just plain laziness, it’s a sure bet that items lingering on your compromise list are creating drag, inefficiency, lost opportunities and increased costs in your company. Even with the knowledge of the consequences, you just can’t seem to convert your compromise list into a no-compromise list of must-do’s that get done. (more…)... Read More

Every leader has one. It’s that list of leadership projects, tasks and responsibilities that you prefer to avoid, ignore or bestow with your highest level of procrastination. It is truly amazing how you can find a zillion other low level things to do rather than tackle your compromise list and check a few items off. Call it human nature, fear of the unknown, insecurity, lack of knowledge or skill, just…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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