When I initially go into businesses and ask them to give me a summary of their team, the first thing they say is “We’ve got a great team here”. They take me through their best people first, saying lots of wonderful things about them. Then, as they go down the list, you always get, “well there is one person within the team (insert name)……” and the story follows of how they aren’t performing to the same standards as everyone else.
Getting the right people within any organisation, in any sector, is exceptionally hard. In fact I’ve not worked with a business yet that doesn’t have an issue with at least one member of staff. It’s very normal but nonetheless, it has a negative impact on the business and the team. When you start your business you expect people to be like you and unfortunately they’re not. The issue is, once the bad apple is in the business it’s difficult to get them out. I’ve seen many businesses create jobs for this difficult person because they’d rather give them something to do that has little impact on the business rather than dealing with the issue this person is creating. Smaller businesses, that have a family feel are the ones most susceptible to this situation. This is because they don’t like conflict and would rather accept this person as they are, rather than try to deal with their behaviour.
So how do you deal with them? By far the most straightforward process I’ve come across originates from Dr Henry Cloud, who I heard speak in the US. He’s a well known psychologist and this is from an extract from his book Necessary Endings, he categorises people into, The Wise, The Foolish and The Evil. If you’d like to find out more the link to the book is here Necessary Endings
The Wise person – when you point something out to a wise person in terms of what they are doing that you’re not happy with, they say “Gosh I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was doing that” or “I really didn’t mean it like that” and they adjust their behaviour. Quite often they even thank you for pointing it out.
A Foolish person – when you point something out to a foolish person, it’s never their fault. They either blame you, blame someone else, or blame the process. You will have had several conversations with them and think you’ve got them to understand what you need but the next time you meet with them, they’ve still not achieved what you’ve agreed they were going to achieve. You’ve got to stop having those conversations. You do this by saying “We’ve had this conversation now several times (include dates, times etc). In those conversations about this issue (state dates) we agreed you would achieve xyz, but we’re still no further forward. What I need to do now is to give this to someone who can complete this” or “you’ve now given me no choice but to take you through a formal performance management procedure” The Foolish person can be turned around once they’ve realised you’re not engaging with them anymore on this matter but sometimes they can’t. If they can’t be turned round and just not getting it, you need to put them out of their misery and end the relationship. I absolutely believe people don’t go to work to be bad at their job. If they’re not performing in their role they will not be happy and some endings are necessary for you and them.
The Evil person – I think we’ve all heard about or come across those people who say “I’m going to take you down with me” as they exit the building. There is nothing you can do about this type of person and Henry Cloud says in these instances you need Guns, Lawyers and Money, It’s going to hurt and it’s going to cost you but you need to speak through a lawyer and not get involved in their emotional dialogue. This is about limiting the exposure to the business as quickly as possible.
People are fundamental to the success of your business and sometimes you have to deal with things that you would rather not deal with, but if you are brave and use the process above you will be a better business.