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When doing it right is wrong
April 28, 2014 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments
Something went “oops” in your company and one employee immediately stepped up to save the day. It wasn’t just any employee – it was that one amazing employee who always seems to step up when things go wrong or when a volunteer is needed to go above and beyond. This employee did the right thing … but a number of team members label the employee as a “show off” or so-called “teacher’s pet.” The company has been in a funk lately and there’s grumbling within the employee ranks. Yet there’s one employee who consistently steps up and kicks butt by producing numbers and results that are off the charts. This employee is doing the right thing … but a number of team members shun and bad-mouth the employee for making them look bad.
The above scenario plays out in a number of businesses every day. It frustrates and drives leaders crazy when they see the thinking, behavior and performance they desire and expect from employees, mocked and ridiculed by others. The company’s culture shifts from dynamic and driven to toxic and divided. This all happens in the shadows of private conversations, back-room talk and cliques that feed on negativity. But eventually the toxicity surfaces and, unless addressed, it spreads like wildfire throughout a department … or even an entire company.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to make “doing it right” a core value that all employees cherish and protect:
- On your watch: It’s easy for leaders to blame the negative players on the team for picking on top performers and creating toxicity in the culture. But the sobering truth is that such scenarios occurred on the leaders’ watch. There are so many priorities, distractions and fires to put out in the daily course of leading a company that quality engagement with employees can be compromised. Paying attention to performance issues and negative attitude shifts, and knowing when employees are twisting “doing right” into “doing wrong,” is the work of a no-compromise leader. If it happens on your watch … own it.
- Destroy from within: When doing it right erodes into doing wrong, a company is experiencing a classic case of “destroy from within.” The company is essentially feeding on itself when it should be feeding on the competition. It is a degradation of the company culture that won’t stop until leadership engages in open and honest communication that focuses on the issue. The longer the toxicity continues, the greater the chance that the “doing it right” employee will leave or succumb to the negativity by joining the naysayers.
- Slackers on your bus: Yes, you may have slackers on your bus. Average is good enough for some folks. They resist change. They ostracize anyone that excels or performs at a level that makes their slacker status obvious. But you hired them. You observed their slacker performance. You continue to buy that average performance and toxic spewing every time you hand slackers a paycheck. It’s time to give the slackers a decision to make at the next bus stop.
- Vision and that elusive “same page”: Somewhere on the voyage, you allowed the company’s vision, standards and values to become blurred. Blurry visions allow culture and performance to drift and degrade. As the leader, you are the keeper and protector of the company’s vision – and visions need perpetual care to keep them pristine. Otherwise, average becomes acceptable. The work of the no-compromise leader is to ensure that every member of your team is on the same page of the same playbook. To do so requires more work, information flow and accountability than many leaders realize. I’m never being cute when I use the term “fearless leader” – I’m being deadly accurate.
- It’s about winning, not whining: Who wants to work for a company that excels at whining about the work to be done? Winning is what business is all about. Just as it is in sports, you measure wins with numbers and scoreboards. In business, winning means a healthy Balance Sheet and impressive Profit & Loss Statement. It’s hitting monthly, quarterly and annual goals. It’s the successful launch of new projects and change initiatives. It’s about opportunity, fulfillment and advancement. If your company isn’t winning … it’s time to address the whining. No compromise.
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