Are You Throwing Your Company Under The Bus?
10-16-2014 at 11:10 AM
Category: Business

I was speaking recently with the Vice President of Operations of a growing, national tech company about a dilemma he was facing in leadership. It is one that many leaders have faced, myself included. What do you do with an employee who is successful in most areas of their work, but in a few key areas, they either don’t do what you are asking them to do, or they flat out refuse to do it?

As with most situations in life, things are rarely black and white. This employee is a leader in your organization over a sizable team. They are successful with their projects, completing them on time and close to budget. There are a few critical parts of your processes that this employee is not doing, yet they are still successful. How do you get this leader to follow protocol?

There are a number of things you can do as the boss. I’m sure you are already thinking of them.

* Ask why the employee is not doing what they are supposed to be doing in regard to processes
* Ask what they would do to resolve the situation if they had a team member doing the same thing under their leadership
* Explain the importance of following established processes and put together an action plan to help the employee follow procedures
* Ignore the issue, after all, they are making the company money
* Fire them and/or threaten their job

Firing someone isn’t always the best solution. It costs a lot of money and time to find another leader to take their place. The cost of losing the employee (they are successful at their work and bringing profitability to the company) may be higher than the benefit of replacing them.

Threatening their job is a tenuous option. Keep in mind, that once you pull the gun out, you cannot put it back. The relational dynamic is changed. The threat will hover over everything they do. Quite frankly, it is counter-productive.

Ignoring the problem is not leadership. Your credibility as a leader is undermined by not addressing the issue. You have spent time, energy, and money to create a corporate culture that makes your company successful and a great place to work. If one of your leaders is not following that culture, and no consequence is given for that action, other leaders and employees will soon follow suit. It is like a cancer that slowly takes over and destroys the productivity and profitability of the company.

What other options do you have? Here are some ideas from the field:

Review the processes to see if they need to change on a global level. Is there something with the process itself that is outdated, ineffective of otherwise unnecessary? Set your pride aside and take an honest look at what your are doing and why. Ask other leaders and staff who are in the trenches doing the work. Ask them for potential solutions to streamline the process.

Connect the situation to the employee’s “hot buttons.” What is your employee passionate about? Competence? Character? Integrity? Following a plan? When you connect the situation with an area that the employee has as a “hot button” you will get resonance. They will get it. From there, you can begin to work on action steps for change and improvement.

Create incentives beyond standard success rewards. Not everyone is motivated by more money. Find out what motivates your employee. Design a reward/bonus system that delivers in that area.

What have you found that has worked for you? Have you had a situation that seemed like a “no-win” yet you were able to turn it around?

Jeff Orr is a Leadership Performance Coach, Business Coach, Author, and Transformational Speaker. Through his coaching company, InDemand Leadership, Jeff empowers executives, leaders and business owners to perform to their full potential without leaving anyone behind in the process. Jeff's passion for seeing leaders reach and exceed their goals comes through in his one-to-one coaching sessions, keynote speaking engagements, leadership retreats, and his book, Succeed In The New Normal.

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Keywords: leadership, employee, firing, goals, character, integrity, success


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