Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ignore the Squeaky Wheel

I often hear friends and colleagues who are managers complain about how much of their daily work day is consumed by difficult employees. Instead of working with their high producing team members to move their company forward, they spend hours upon hours trying to make these squeaky wheels fit into the culture of their particular organization by coaching them to get them to where they need to be.  

I get it. I understand this impulse. As leaders, we believe that our primary responsibility is to solve problems. And at some point, we have all been taught to believe that part of being a good leader is the ability to turn even the most difficult employee into a productive team player. But often, that is just not possible and results in wasted time. And so, I guide my team and those colleagues who seek my advice to ignore the squeaky wheels and start focusing their energy on those who are or who have demonstrated the desire and ability to contribute to our organization.

Think about how much time and energy you spend working with the most demanding employees, fielding complaints from their colleagues, or simply the hours drained while you strategize on how to solve the problems they cause. Now, what if you took that time and devoted it to coaching a team member who has the desire to grow within the organization but needs a bit of guidance? Or perhaps working with one of your stellar team members to help expand their skill set?  I bet you would find that this time is much more likely to result in new and innovative ideas, heightened productivity as well as a more positive and cohesive work place. You are also much more likely to retain the highest performing members of your team, which, in the end, is a cost savings as these individuals are the most expensive to replace.

I know this can be easier said than done, but setting clear expectations with your team and holding them accountable for their actions from the very beginning (and holding yourself to the same standards) will allow you to lead your team as effectively as possible. It will also allow you to develop a more positive and productive work culture and move your organization’s needle forward. And what could be more important?

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