Why are you buying behavior and performance you don’t like?

stop_making_excuses2Every time you distribute paychecks, you are “buying” all of the behavior and performance your employees delivered for that pay period. You’re buying positive attitudes, initiative, accountability, trustworthiness, creative thinking, follow through, and other characteristics of a great employee. But at the same time, you’re also buying missed deadlines, chronic lateness, resistance to change, negative attitudes, broken commitments, low productivity, and a bunch of other stuff that drives leaders crazy. The question is; why do you continue to buy behavior and performance that is unacceptable?

Managers that don’t manage… service and sales staff that don’t deliver service or sell… employees that spend more time texting and on Facebook than working. We’ve all encountered these employees, the ones that put more effort into innovating excuses than into innovating breakthroughs. It’s entitlement thinking as opposed to engagement thinking; they are quick to say, “It’s not my job,” instead of stepping up, taking responsibility, and getting work done. This thinking and behavior exists to some degree in every company. The problem is that most leaders receive very little training or coaching to address the thinking and behavior issues that contaminate company cultures. That’s why the question we hear most in leadership coaching is, “Can’t they just do their job?” The answer is yes… if you stop buying the thinking and behavior you don’t want.

Here are some no-compromise leadership strategies to make every paycheck a good investment:

  • Own what you bought: Guess what? All the thinking and behavior that you don’t like in your company happened on your watch. You actually played witness and saw it go down, allowing the negativity to gradually manifest into your culture. You probably tried to correct it a few times, but never engaged at the level necessary to flush it out. You kept handing out paychecks and buying what you didn’t like. Fact: It happens to the best of leaders. Don’t beat yourself up – just own what you allowed to happen. Pointing the finger of blame at others only creates more damage and resentment. Openly owning what you created begins the reconstruction of your culture.
  • Stop enabling: What if you invested the time to meet privately with each employee and personally hand-delivered his or her paycheck? Begin a candid conversation detailing all of the positive thinking, behavior, and performance that you are delighted to buy with that paycheck. Then, without being confrontational, discuss the thinking, behavior, and performance that paycheck also bought that you don’t want to buy anymore. You must keep the conversation safe and open. Ask the employee how they can help the company improve. Ask what you can personally do to help the employee achieve his or her full potential. Objective: The intent of this conversation is to connect all the good and bad that you’re buying from the employee to his or her paycheck. You’re clearly stating what you like buying and what you don’t.
  • It’s the few not the many: The worst tactic in leadership is to call out the entire team for the poor performance of a few. Everyone knows exactly whom the offenders are that you’re referring to – including the offenders themselves. Your solid team players resent having to listen to the thinking, behavior, and performance issues of others. In fact, they’re often as frustrated as you are… but you’re the only one with the authority to address it. In these “dump on everyone” meetings, the offenders happily blend in and pretty much ignore the entire process. Fact: Nothing ever changes with this tactic. You must focus directly on the problem employees. That’s what your solid team players are waiting – and sometimes begging – for you to do.
  • Set a timeline: Want to lose 30 pounds in six months? Here’s the plan. Want to get in shape for that 150-mile bike ride? Here’s the plan. Want to continue to receive paychecks? Here’s the 90-day plan to work on your skills, performance, thinking, and behavior. Fact: Telling an employee to sell more, do your job, be on time, follow the rules, etc. is not a plan attached to a timeline.
  • Lead as a coach: You work with a coach to get better, to improve your skills and performance. A coach takes a personal interest and pride in developing individuals and pushing them to achieve their full potential. If you don’t have the time, interest, or desire to coach and mentor your employees…what the heck are you doing in leadership? For me, the greatest joy of being the leader of a company is not generating profit – it’s in developing and seeing my team members grow into mentors themselves. Fact: Dictatorial, egotistical, and arrogant leaders that worship profit at the expense of people are the worst leaders of all. They suck the life out of good people and give little in return.
  • Walk the plank: Not everyone is a good fit for your company or your style of leadership. Some people interview well and have resumes that are impressively written, but fail to live up to their own hype. There are good employees that encounter personal issues that adversely affect their work performance. Fact #1: When it gets to the point where you need to say, “We’re fighting harder to protect your paycheck than you are,” it’s time for both the company and/or the employee to make a decision. Fact #2: Whenever a leader asks me, “How long do you wait until you fire an employee?” my response is, “You’ve already waited too long.”

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


3 Responses to “Why are you buying behavior and performance you don’t like?”

  1. August 19, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Having employed people for over 20 years, I can honestly say this article is spot on. The sooner you play by these rules the sooner you are in total control of your team. Well done.

  2. August 19, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Basically, you are buying behavior you do not like because you can never buy a person entirely. You hire them to do a job, but you have no ownership of them.

  3. August 19, 2013 at 7:59 am

    A refreshing discussion – thank you. I will also be sharing this article with my management team and we will discuss it at our next meeting as a way forward, rather than just accepting the previous ‘same old’ from the (very few) who this relates to. At the same time it also reinforces theappreciation we have of those who do engage and commit.

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