The Care and Feeding of Misfits

People don’t leave their personalities at the workplace door. As business managers, we interact with people during all stages of their life. The manager-employee relationship is a complex one as like it or not, we are perceived as being in a position of power over staff.

This introduces stress to the relationship but may also trigger past relationship experiences for people. This may in turn trigger emotions and behaviours that have little to do with the current work situation, and more to do with the past experiences that may be hard-wired in the brain of either person. These behaviours can be extreme, or at least, an ongoing distraction from work priorities.

Unfortunately, if there is no specific strategy to create a high-performing culture, productivity can resemble a normal curve…..
– 15% at the bottom who are “misfits” (and consume 70% of energy and attention)
– 70% in the middle (at varying levels of performance) and
– 15% at the top “carrying” the rest.

Unless staff are acutely aware of the direct effect of their performance (or otherwise) on business survival, they may well develop a “distorted sense of entitlement.” (See Blog entry: Distorted Sense of Entitlement – whose fault?”) It is simple: our job as leaders is to ensure people do what is needed for the collective success. Ignoring below-optimal performance is actively placing the business, and other people, under unnecessary pressure.

IGNORING misfits is too passive a word, here; it is not accurate. Not acting quickly with the bottom 15% is what I call “IGNORATION”. This is an active ignoring action that has the effect of stimulating MORE of the deviant behaviour, causing ever-increasing pressure on the business.

A high-performance culture is one where whoever sees the deviant behaviour calls the person on it immediately, according to an AGREED protocol. Not only is this more likely to succeed but let’s face it, a manager is vastly outnumbered. If everyone takes responsibility to ensure that everyone is holding up their end, the business stands the best chance of success in a competitive market.

Not swiftly addressing unhelpful attitudes and behaviours is FEEDING the misfits and annoying the top 15%. Over time, the middle 70% watch all the care and feeding of the misfits, and a good number realise that the “bottom” is where people do as they please, on full pay!

Ensure you are not a manager guilty of ignoration. Involve people in the success of the business. They are smart and full of ideas – tap into these and as a team, vow to starve mediocrity and feed exceptional effort. Soon the misfits will leave in search of care and feeding – elsewhere.



About Cherri Holland

Fascinated with business, brains and how to use the brains on the payroll to make business buzz.
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