Throughout my life I have given little thought to whether or not people like me, or what their conception of my abilities were. When in football, music, and business I always felt that what other people thought of me had little to do with the overall mission. I never spent time afraid of what was being said behind my back. In fact most of the things that were said were probably true, so why would I get mad. I am honest with myself and not afraid to admit my faults. Nor am I delusional and think that everybody is my best friend. I know I can be harsh and that my aggressive tactics cannot be received well at times. However, my conviction is clear and when things go south there are few people that would not want me by their side in battle.
Now the first paragraph of this piece could be misconstrued, and paint me as a maniacal narcissist. However, I am trusting that my followers already know by now that I truly understand the importance of a team and how to foster great business relationships. But that shouldn’t get drawn into making business decisions.
Be honest with yourself and ask these questions:
1. Am I afraid to deal with confrontation? (subordinates and supervisors)
2. Do I let what other people think of me effect my decision making?
3. Am I afraid to lose my job?
4. Do I fear what an employee will do in retaliation of a reprimand or termination?
5. Do I allow others to take blame for something I knew about?
6. Am I afraid to take on my superiors for the good of my team?
7. Am I unwilling to fight for change that will benefit my team?
8. Do I prefer to take the backseat and let others take the risks?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you need to be honest with yourself and realize that you are not a leader. That doesn’t mean that you cannot be an effective manager, just that you need to find a leader to put on your team and offer them the support required when problems arise. Do not just automatically say no to each question, but dig deep and do some soul searching.
Over my years in business I have seen multiple examples of managers that allow fear to get the better of them. They complicate situations by worrying about what an employee might do in retaliation of a reprimand or termination. This is in direct conflict with everything I believe in, from a managers stand point. When conflict arises, and decisions have to be made you do what is right to support your team, and your top performers. You do not waste time in fear of their retribution. If an employee is insubordinate you cut him off at the knees. You make sure he understands that type of behavior will not be tolerated. You need to deal with the problem employees with the same veracity you compliment the good team members.
I already know that I am going to get hundreds of emails from HR folks telling me the liability that exists when terminating employees. Please understand that I am not suggesting that you do not follow HR guidelines. I am also fully aware of all the HR implications when terminating employees. But if we continue to allow employees to hang on to their jobs because they file a complaint with HR, safety, or legal, when they get wind of an impending reprimand, then we are breeding a culture of squatters.
Just like in the rental housing industry, there are squatters that have figured out how to work the system, and can remain living in a house for years without paying any rent, with little concern to the path of destruction they have caused to the owners. There are employees that have figured out how to use the same guiding principles in business as these parasites have done in the housing market. These business squatters make accusations about managers to take the focus off their paucity in an attempt to save their jobs. To avoid HR, safety, or legal issues these problem employees get moved around the company from group to group, keeping their jobs for years and causing irreparable harm to the reputations of the managers they have attacked. And it is all due to fear!
I have never allowed fear to have any control over my actions. I don’t believe that any true leader can allow fear to play a part in their judgment. All business decisions need to be exactly that, a business decision, and let the chips fall where they may. The truth is that we have no control over what a disgruntled employee will do, and keeping them as part of your organization is just moving the risk to a different department. It is time that all companies take a stand against these business squatters and extricate them permanently from their organizations. Follow HRs guidelines, but start building a case to rid yourself of these destructive freeloaders once and for all.
In closing, you should never let fear run your business or affect your decision making. Whether it is with employees, customers, competitors, or any other outside influence you must persevere. Stay true to your core set of values and make decisions based solely on business principles and do not let emotions play any part. In the end you will be much happier and have a much stronger team around you, if you just do the right thing and leave fear where it belongs…out of the business world.