In the wake of the Clarkson unacceptable behaviour saga, we thought it would be useful to revisit some pointers for dealing with a top performer who is behaving badly.
It is one of the most commonly raised issues in our management development programmes, because managers are so worried about losing the great performance if they tackle the poor behaviour. They worry revenue will walk out the door or behaviour will get worse.
But we pose one simple question in these situations... What happens if you don’t tackle it?
Once thinking about this angle it is easy to see how dangerous it can be to leave these situations unchecked...
For a start, the behaviour won’t change – just as we saw with Clarkson. The physical violence which finally saw him exit the BBC was just one incident in a string of misdemeanours. Behaviour often worsens if it is left unchallenged.
And then there is the potential “ripple” effect... How will this affect the rest of the team? Will it encourage others to try “getting away with it”? How does it reflect on the manager themselves, if they don’t deal with it? And if it is affecting team motivation, how long before this becomes apparent to the external customers in some way?
One thing that often helps, is getting managers to define “performance”. When we manage people’s performance, we should be looking at 2 key areas...
A top performer who rides roughshod over team members is simply not a good performer. A great “personality” who hits their co workers is not a good performer.
Viewing both aspects of performance as equally vital will help managers to address behavioural issues with team members when they fall short... just as they would address someone falling short of a an agreed target or missing a deadline.
Stella Chandler and I founded Focal Point on a shared belief that a training course run in isolation doesn't work. We passionately believe there must be support both before and after the training or coaching session itself for it to make a difference. When I am not facilitating sessions with clients or looking at ways to grow the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...