The Working Dead!

My son recently completed work experience with a well-known global defence and aerospace company. On the way back one day, he asked me out of the blue.

Dad, why is it people still get paid when they do not work hard? 

I asked him what he meant. He went on to say how in the team he was assigned to for the week that three team members, were lazy, openly complained and spent most of the day doing very little bar talking about how they could not wait to finish the day

I pondered the question. What sort of an impression had this made? He had a point I thought. It’s a logical question. My response was, yes unfortunately this happens. People do still get paid even if they have the wrong attitude and do not do a good job. Their team leader should tell them so they understand its not acceptable and so they can get better. If they still do not improve, then yes maybe they should not get paid and maybe they should be asked to leave.

Draining life blood!

I explained, that in the corporate world, too often these people are simply tolerated, allowed to co-exist with other more productive employees. Yet, leaders systematically fail to call them out. It has unfortunately become for many organisations the 'norm'. Too many leaders believe that it is easier to avoid these people, avoid their negativity, often for fear of an unfavourable response or reprisal or they are simply not equipped to deal with them. Regardless, the long term impact is catastrophic!

These people drain the life blood out of any organisation. They sap energy, disrupt, dis-engage, pull others down, lower morale and have a corrosive effect on team working, and worst of all they cost the company money!

Why is mediocracy and poor performance accepted, sometimes for years? Why are they allowed to exist? Why is there a persistent lack of accountability? At Linac we hear countless stories and feedback from organisations that claim there is a lack of accountability, a lack of consequence for these zombie like employees. These employees are spoiling the party for everyone else. They are the difference between mediocre and great performance.

Whose responsibility is it?

It can be argued that to an extent the employee has a responsibility to themselves first and foremost. But who is checking them, asking them the tough questions and holding them to account? If strong leadership is non-existent then why would we expect these people to change? Leaders need to be role models, set the example, be tough and courageous, expect and drive high standards and they need to be prepared to have the all important tough conversation.

Why is it so many leaders do not dig deep, find the courage and confidence to confront and call these people out? The short answer is leaders are either too anxious or afraid or simply do not have the skill set. Capability and confidence comes with development and practice. Leaders need to understand the neuroscience behind difficult conversations as it enables leaders to get tough and adopt a whole new approach to these zombie employees!

Get tough!

Often, as leaders, we are handed people we did not recruit, in fact, we would not recruit them if given a choice. Leaders often find themselves stuck with people who are disengaged, demotivated and performing poorly, who can infect others with their poor mind-set and attitude, like a corporate pandemic. Leaders have to find the strength to put their boots on and give these people the kick up the backside they so thoroughly deserve.

It's 'tough love' you owe to these people, you owe them the opportunity to choose to mend their ways. You are responsible fiscally and it is your job to do this. After all, they are contracted by the organisation to live the values, behave as expected and perform and not just turn up and take their pay home.

Why should the majority suffer at the hands of the minority?

If all else fails then leaders need to get really tough and be prepared to permanently show these people the exit door. Tolerating them and keeping them will do untold, long lasting damage. All of your employees need to be acknowledged for good and for bad.

"The team with the best players usually does win", Jack Welch

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