About 30 years ago, I worked for an organization that I can now see was poorly run. At 22, I did not know any better. The zeitgeist was passive-aggressive, authoritarian management. For instance, one day, out of the blue, we were all told that from now on we had to be in the office by 8:30am or we were at risk of losing our jobs. I lived about an hour away from the office and left about the same time every day getting to work at or before 8:15. One morning there was an accident on the way to work. I was at risk of making it in on time and had to weave in and out of traffic at high speed to make up time. Although I am a decent driver having been taught by my dad who, for a time, raced cars, it was a harrowing and unsafe ride. I arrived with no time to spare; a bit hyped up.
Quite shaken and full of piss and vinegar, I strode into the VPs office who originally informed us all of the new policy and let him know that I had to drive like a madman to make it in. He told me, in confidence, not to worry because the policy was aimed at one guy they were trying to fire who regularly came in late. This was their way of finding a “legitimate” way of getting rid of him instead of the real reasons they wanted to fire him. I was beside myself. They had created a rule for 400 people so they could get rid of 1 person!
I have since learned that this is not an isolated incident, Many companies create numerous policies to manage the margins.
Please see the short video below from John Ratliffe, former CEO of Appletree Answers, with a tip on how to eliminate one of the most popular ways companies do this inadvertently – the employee handbook. His advice is to eliminate all the one-off policies that were created to address the behavior of your worst employees but are an affront to the other 90%.
I strongly believe that you can find other ways to address the problem(s).
- Hire for and then reinforce your core values every day
- Focus your hiring to build great teams versus hiring great individual contributors
- Put people in jobs that maximize strengths/minimize weaknesses
- Create an environment where the preferred behavior is recognized and rewarded regularly
First and foremost, eliminate short-sighted policies and procedures that provide unnecessary reasons for your best employees to think about leaving.
Your A players are 2-3 times more productive than everyone else. They hate working with marginal employees and are least tolerant of the BS rules created to manage them. Your job will be much easier if you can find a way to manage marginal employees into the culture or out of the company. It is my experience that the former happens much less often than the latter but, unfortunately, most of the time, we do neither. This is sometimes called the Ostrich Effect.
I recommend that you pick your head up and give the employee handbook review a go. Your best and brightest will be happy you did.
Here is another article I wrote regarding how to recognize an A Player that also provides access to a Talent Assessment tool I modified for my clients and others.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
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