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The Rodney Brim Blog

People on the Bus and Performance (2of2)

December 22, 2010

How do you get out of the position of being held hostage at work?  It’s a
challenge that is more common than you might think; a challenge presented
to you by one or more of your top performing,  “productive”
Talented Terrors.  
It’s almost Christmas as I write this blog, so let’s
consider it time to give yourself a gift, so… let’s talk about the gift of your
exit strategy from being held hostage.

This 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
in your top 20% of producers who create high stress and turmoil, but
with whom you feel trapped, and non-powerful when it comes to making
a change, e.g. either turning them around or showing them the exit door.

1. The first step in exiting from being held hostage is realizing you
can do it.
  Part of the hostage mentality is feeling you can’t afford to exit,
can’t afford to make things better, the cost will be too great.  But you can,
and you’ll eventually feel much better, not to mention accomplish more and
have a less stressful job.  So switch how you think about this.  There’s hope.

2. The 2nd step is to take back control of the things you are doing that
support the hostage situation
.  Stop yourself from repeating what
doesn’t work.  Check out the following list and if you are doing any of them,
stop, cut it out and replace with something more effective… even if it is
only registering your dis-like and disapproval:

– 1.  In the face of TTs disturbing behavior, and/or non-compliance you
try to accommodate and adapt, instead of obtaining a different solution.
– 2. Engaging in denial and minimization, “it isn’t that bad”… “hey everyone
is different”,  etc.
– 3. Engaging in repeated “I’m going to change them” conversations, which
when you look back you recognize don’t work
– 4. Tolerating non-loyalty and/or non-compliance, some would say
passive-aggressive behavior (on the bus you need people that are competent
and loyal).

3.  The 3rd step is to come to terms with how much the cost is.�
Start by being very frank with yourself about the costs incurred as a hostage
before you ever attempt to confront a TT.  When you employ or include TTs in
your team, along with the great stuff a lot of damage ensues… Face up to it.�
Count the dollars.   Make a list of all the things that haven’t got done.�
TTs cost money and time.

They typically don’t do stuff that they are uncomfortable with, at least not
without a lot of pressure.  In so doing, quality declines, relationships get
strained, customers get offended, and deadlines get missed (and by the way,
TTs will turn all of this into your fault).  But as long as it is all your fault 😉
you might as well count up the cost.  Then multiply by 10 because you didn’t
dig far enough, and more stuff will surface than you know about once you
emerge from being a hostage.  And by-the-way, did you remember to count
up the cost TTs have had on your growth trajectory.

Ok… so we got through changing your mindset about this being doable.�
Stopping what you’re doing to enable the situation, even if that only means
simply stating you don’t like what’s happening istead of ignoring or
accomodating.   And finally we got you to address the cost.  Armed with
these three steps, you’re ready to take step #4.

4. Step #4 is searching for a replacement.  Remember part of being
held hostage is feeling that you don’t have a choice.  Not having a choice
typically translates into not having a replacement.  Interestingly enough,
sometimes the biggest replacement is a system or process, not another
person, e.g. you don’t have their special sauce documented, you don’t
have a system in place that replicates their process, you don’t have it
thoughtfully laid out in a management software like ManagePro, such that
someone could come in and pick up the pieces and carry forward… you
don’t have something that they can take away if they decide to threaten you.�
Cover that base.  Start the search, pay someone to address the issues
your TT is not… you’re paying for it anyway.

5.  If you’ve notice by now, and we are up to dealing with the TT, you’re
already  80% out of the hostage situation, and it was all something
you can do
, not what you had to get the TT to do.  That’s an important
concept to get your brain around.  Step 5 is simply saying you’re not OK
with the current process, don’t spend much energy describing what you
don’t like, be brief and concrete, ultimately it isn’t relevant, its your
willingness to act on it is that’s relevant.
   Then be very concrete
about their two options, either enact change that you specify or leave.
And then stop and don’t say anything for a bit.   They may need time to
think about it.  You need time to soak in the experience.

Look around, you’ve already exited the hostage situation.  Now lock the door
quietly behind and do not re-enter… ever again.  As to more specifics on
how to handle this conversation, and the next one; there’s lots of resources,
books, and webinars –  go enable yourself with the tools that you need.


Being held hostage to Talented Terrors is something that you can and
should exit from.  80% or more of the steps required for exiting  have
to do with things you can control.  Give yourself the gift of freedom,
exit from the hostage scenario with your TTs, you’ll like the
performance gains in the new year.

People on the Bus and Performance
Dealing with Difficult Employees

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