Rip That Band-Aid Off!

In the last blog post, I shared a story about a fellow who thought the owner of the company rigged the soda machine to squeeze a few more nickels out of him. Then I shared a little bit about how the negative comments he made about the owner openly in front of his supervisor and many of the team members he worked with every day can impact an entire organization’s performance. Even if he had been the hardest working and most productive guy in the bunch, those comments weren’t OK. But he wasn’t…

I emphasize again here, he was remarkably knowledgeable in the work he was doing; I can’t take any of that away from him. Truth be told, I’m not sure anyone in the company knew how to perform the job better than him!

All that said, having knowledge and applying it in a way that exceeds expectations are very different things…

For the sake of the point I’m driving, let’s just pretend his actual performance was hitting the mark; one time, every time without going over budget. Remember that stats I shared from John Maxwell recently about the percentage of people who meet expectations vs those who exceed expectations? (80% never meet expectations, 15% only meet expectations, and only 5% ever exceed expectations…) If we’re working to build a team that attracts the best people and deserves to receive premium pricing from the customers and clients we serve, we certainly can’t afford to be in the 80% and we won’t get where we want to be if we’re only in the 15% either!

With that in mind, think of culture we’d each have if our longest tenured and most skilled folks were consistently performing average work. If the best in our businesses are just squeaking by, what message is that sending to the folks who are learning the ropes? In many cases, the new guy on the team is likely to feel like he’ll never get ahead if the seasoned veterans are just getting by. For the folks who have been around for a while and may have realized the top dogs may not be giving it all they’ve got, it can send one of two messages: a message that mediocre is acceptable or a message that they’re expected to do the heavy lifting while the lifer’s coast… In either case, the ones with the most potential for exceeding expectations won’t likely stick around long!

Just like with the scenario in that last post, issues like this don’t get addressed due to concern of upsetting the team member; the concern of them jumping ship or of sabotaging the projects they’re already responsible for in retaliation.

What’s often missed is just how much not addressing the issue is having one everyone else in the organization! While there MAY be potential for that one person to leave or go on a hunger strike of sorts, there’s nearly always fallout all around. And not only does that fallout create immediate issues, like increased recruitment and training costs, it can actually keep us from ever developing our next great team member…

In many cases, we just need to rip the band-aid off and have a direct conversation (notice I didn’t say confrontation). All too often, supervisors, managers, and owners avoid having candid conversations to address performance or disciplinary issues because they care about the person and don’t want it to seem like an attack. Let’s be honest, some of those most senior team members have played significant roles in building the company! But avoiding a direct conversation is only hurting that company they helped build. It’s also impacting the potential of the team around them, and quite honestly, it’s hurting them too!

In the next post, we’ll walk through some steps that can be taken to address specific issues without damaging a long term relationship and before there’s an explosion...

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