Loyalty, respect and support for team members are values instilled in us from childhood and they are certainly amongst the key attributes of successful leaders. A recent review has caused me to recognise that at times we may carry loyalty too far and we risk severe consequences by doing so.
In a recent review of two unrelated corporate failures I realised that each business suffered enormous damage as a direct consequence of disenfranchised and under performing senior managers. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that it is possible that if these managers had been removed 12 months earlier each company may well have survived.
Why are such managers retained? It is likely that their shortcomings have been recognised and discussed with them during performance reviews or following poor management decisions or errors of judgement. When faced with the prospect of dismissing them their line manager has almost certainly taken into account:
The monetary cost of replacing them
The productivity loss from replacing them and retraining a replacement
The disruption within the team or business unit
These are rarely valid arguments a bad manager will cause a disproportionate level of problems which may well lay hidden for months before something finally breaks. Further a bad manager is fracturing the team and negatively influencing others.
What are the solutions?
Only recruit the best: By recruiting the best possible people you are taking primary responsibility for quality – you dramatically reduce the risk of future problems.
Always Reference Check: When recruiting don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions of current or ex employers, yes we need great technical and educational skills but what about their interpersonal skills. Are they team players, do they play favourites or get involved in office politics.
Formal Process: I have a policy that senior people are employed on the understanding that they will face a 180 day performance review – fail that review and its sudden death.
All or nothing: Being mostly a team player is like being “slightly pregnant”; it’s just not on and it’s not going to work.
Now it may sound tough but if one of your apples is looking bad throw it away and do it quickly. Your team will thank you and your bottom line will prosper.
By, Neil Steggall
The Barking Mad Blog
Business Advice with Bite
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