Here in Nebraska we don’t have a pro football team, so many of us cheer for our neighbors, the Kansas City Chiefs (particularly this year). Having the best season since many of us can remember, it was a big deal when starting wide receiver Dwayne Bowe got arrested the week before the Chiefs’ toughest game of the season against the Denver Broncos.
The Chiefs were the last undefeated team standing this season at 9-0, when one of their key players was arrested on drug charges. While we don’t all have an NFL season on the line, top performers who break the rules are a common problem in business.
What are company leaders to do with top performers who just won’t follow the rules? This talent has proven to be an asset to the company, but does that make them impervious to the policies and standards that the rest of the team is held to?
This is a tough one for management. When you have a worker who is key to driving the success of the team, but they won’t get in line, management’s actions (or lack thereof) will come under great scrutiny. On one hand, firing this person, or using disciplinary actions that might lead to him or her quitting, will affect the entire team. When a key player leaves, it can damage the success of the organization. On the other hand, when these workers are given preferential treatment, it will undoubtedly tick off those employees who actually have to play by the rules. And for the record, the “It’s none of your business anyhow” attitude will really tick off the rest of the team.
So how does management deal with the key player rule breakers? Realizing that performance isn’t the only metric is tough. Numbers are how just about everyone gauges success, but it is far from being the only metric. Performance and behavior should be equally important. One shouldn’t outweigh the other when management is assessing an employee’s value in the organization.
When I researched articles from managers in this sticky situation, I came across one particular story that made it all fall into place for me. In this instance, the top salesperson refused to complete the other work that went along with his sales position. In any position, a worker will probably have a dozen or more tasks that make up their actual job. If a great sales person refuses to update the customer relationship management system (CRM), file paper work or do any of the other things that are actually his/her responsibility, how is it that anyone considers this individual a top performer?
Getting stuck on numbers, and not looking at the whole picture can make for a very skewed perception. If all of the other members of that sales team didn’t spend time with paper work and the CRM system, they could probably raise their sales numbers as well. While this is only one instance, the idea makes a lot of sense.
Although the Chief’s undefeated streak was broken with a loss against the Broncos, Dwayne Bowe started in the game (and he kind of rocked it out). Since his run in with the law, his teammates, coaches and family members have stood up for Bowe with statements strongly indicating that he is hard worker with a kind heart, who simply made a mistake. Each case will be different and each reputation will speak for itself.
Have you ever had this issue arise in your business? What would you do?