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People on the Bus and Performance (1of2)

December 17, 2010

If you look at this year’s performance for the people in your team, your
organization… “your bus,” what do you notice?

If I asked you about performance and your people, I bet you would focus
on the laggards, and 90% of the time you would be focused on the
wrong individual
when it comes to moving the performance needle.

If you apply the 80-20 rule to your team, then the top 20% of your
people create 80% of the value.  So focusing on your laggards will
help some, but won’t move the needle necessarily.

You know what holds most organizations back from performing better?
– at least with groups I get a chance to work with?  It’s what Mark Murphy
from Leadership IQ calls Talented Terrors (TTs).

Here’s a couple of points he makes about TTs as they relate to performance:

– 1. TTs negatively impact the team.  Between 87% to 93% of co-workers
report being emotionally impacted by them causing reduced productivity

– 2. TTs “destroy” leadership effectiveness, their credibility and
ability to hold other employees accountable,  requiring a much
higher % of time to manage then the rest of the employees…

– 3. His bottom line; if you want to improve performance, you have
to either turn Talented Terrors around or get rid of them.

What Mark doesn’t talk about, and what I both see and experience
when I have someone like this working for me… is that dreadful
feeling of being held hostage.

How about you?  I’m betting if you have people working for you,
you have one or more people that are very talented, but repeatedly
disruptive with their attitude, their behavior, their outbursts… but

But what?

But even if you’re nodding your head and agreeing as you read this,
you feel like you would lose too much if you let them go.  Right?

And you would be right… and you would be wrong.

I think about some of the rationalizations I’ve repeated to myself
and others, for not addressing stuff like this earlier.  And by-the-way,
most of the time these people don’t turn around, so you know you’re
looking at needing to replace them.

Here’s 4 characteristics I notice about the experience of being held hostage:

1. Part of the hostage experience is the feeling that you can’t replace
them easily
.    They have critical skills others don’t commonly match,
and YOU NEED THEM, so you feel stuck, with no one readily available
to step into their role.

2. Another part of the hostage game is you don’t want to go through
the setbacks
, the pain, you’re going to face if you let them go…
you know the rebuilding process.  Because believe me, TT’s don’t
document or manage their work process in such a way that it will
be easy to transition to someone else.

3.  TTs keep you off balance with a mix of helpful behavior, then
unhelpful behavior – often that surprises you because of it’s sudden
onset or intensity.  TTs typically reserve a fair amount of space to react
to any discomfort.  It’s as if their comfort is the top priority, and
moderating response to discomfort is something they don’t worry about…
that’s your job isn’t it, Mr./Mrs. hostage… I mean manager, leader?

4. You talk to yourself when dealing with TTs.  You make promises to
yourself, you rationalize to yourself, you talk to other people and mend
fences, you practice what you are going to say.  You may even make feeble
attempts to get free (usually telling the hostage holder that you don’t like it)
– sounds really powerful doesn’t it?

When you’re feeling like a hostage, you do more talking than acting.

So what do you do to get out of being held hostage?

Mark Murphy has some excellent suggestions for scripting your conversation
with TTs in his book,  100% Percenters, but I would like give you some
tips on how to get out of being held hostage..
. which I promise to
have out in the next blog on Monday.

The Payoffs of Choosing the Right People

1 Comment. Leave new

People on the Bus and Performance (2of2)
December 22, 2010 10:44 am

[…] is a follow-up blog to last week’s blog, in which I talked about what Mark Murphy refers to as Talented Terrors, meaning those individuals […]


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