Business Growth & Strategy

Who is De-Railing your Organization?

derailingAfter two years, you make the decision to let go of an employee and now start hearing from employees all the problems this leader had been causing over the past two years.  Sound familiar?

I recently had a conversation with the CEO of a major health organization who had this happen to him.  It wasn’t entirely a surprise to him as he had been questioning the fit and performance of this individual for a while, but it was the depth of the problems that were a surprise.

The scenario of this CEO is not unusual and if it doesn’t sound familiar then you are in the minority and I want to hear from you! I want to know your secret to success. But if this has happened to you, what are you doing that keeps these situations at bay?

Three Common Situations

I have found that there are three very common situations that occur in an organization that can cause a de-railer to continue to be employed.

  1. Terrorist- the terrorist is the very high performer, generally a sales rep that can bring in those whales, big accounts. No one wants to fire a star performer! The problem is that they cause havoc inside an organization. They refuse to follow policies and procedures, are rude to other staff, and are always demanding more perks and benefits. The end result is your culture starts to erode.
  2. Loyalist- the loyalist is that person who has been with the organization from the very beginning and been loyal to the company through thick and thin. Yet, the company has grown and they have not been able to grow with the company. Companies will accommodate these low performers by moving them from one position to another in hopes they will perform better in the next position.
  3. Sloth- the sloth is the employee that you generally don’t see, they are good at “hiding” and they are also good at doing just about nothing. Now, because they aren’t disruptive they hang on to their job until the tough times hit. Just like sloths hang onto tree limbs, they hang on for much too long.

So how do you stop this from happening to you in the future?  What steps have can you take to eliminate potential future problems? Here are some steps that I recommend to executives and business owners I have worked with in the past:

  1. Hire right the first time, and look ahead to what you will need the person to be doing in the future, not just the next 12 months. This requires a good hiring process which includes validated assessments and a strong set of behavioral interview questions.
  2. Provide an environment of open communication . Encourage people to be honest and open by modeling transparency. Be willing to share bad news in a caring, respectful way.
  3. Focus on the behaviors of individuals not their personalities when providing feedback. And explore with them how they can leverage their strengths to overcome their challenges.
  4. Develop an early warning system, like Doppler radar, to identify trends in behaviors that can lead to derailment. The system will require your time and commitment as a leader. I recommend creating a rhythm that includes 1 on 1 meetings. For ideas of rhythms to implement, Chapter 2 of the  eBook Are You Talent Obsessed? Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving high-performers can help you start the process.

Don’t be surprised by the CEO of the healthcare organization I mentioned, take steps to identify behavior problems early before an employee has the chance to de-rail your company.

Category: Business Growth & Strategy Leadership Retention & Engagement Talent Management

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About the Author: Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC, of Atlanta, Georgia, is a Vistage Chair and President of Executive Velocity, a leadership development and coaching firm accelerating the leadership success of CEOs and business leaders from emerging to midsize com…

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