Here’s good ‘ole Ted. He’s worked for you for almost 10 years. He arrives at work each morning between 7:55 and 7:59 AM. He follows the same procedures he helped create years ago. He does his work the same systematic way each day. He quietly attends all required meetings and training sessions. He provides reports when asked. He’s polite, doesn't challenge his co-workers, and doesn't get stressed, excited or ruffled by much at all. He usually eats lunch at his desk. He never wastes a customer’s time; he answers their requests and quickly ends his interactions with them. He cleans off his desk and shuts his equipment down by 4:58 PM. He’s out the door promptly at 5:00 PM each night. Good ‘ole dependable Ted may be killing your business.
Dependable employees like Ted are good, trustworthy people. However, employees like Ted are not good for businesses that need to dramatically change the way they operate to maintain or regain their competitiveness. Why? Because too often, employees like Ted dig their heels deeply into the ground when challenged to think creatively, identify areas for improvement, change processes that work fine but could be so much better. They tend to focus on the way things are instead of the way things need to evolve. Economic changes, redesigns, upgrades, process improvements, constant skill development, new equipment, new software, new team members, new products and services, new competitors, and at times, new customers are all considered nuisances or problems. New opportunities are dreaded. In fact, employees like Ted resist when they’re encouraged or challenged to identify areas for improvement. They dig their heels in and believe they're saving their jobs. They dig in deeper and become more resistant. They operate more and more on autopilot and bring less and less insight, innovation, or enthusiasm to the job. Too many employees like Ted can kill the excitement, energy, and engagement of other employees and of your customers – and that can kill a business.
So, should you fire all of your “Teds?” Absolutely not. Remember, they're good, dependable employees. Those personality traits alone are gold. However, given the way the business world operates, those are only a few of the qualities needed of your team members. You need to help them use and develop other traits too. Tell your team members you value them. Tell them where you want to take your organization in the future. Tell them what is needed from all of you to get it there. Then tell each of them, what additional skills and behaviors you and they need to develop to ensure the organization (and their jobs) survive and prosper. Often times, the skills needed are basic changes in expectations and behaviors. Many employees like Ted, have never been asked for their input before. So they may not readily identify opportunities or if they do, they may not feel comfortable sharing them. Dependable employees need to learn this skill and trust their input will be appreciated. Help them understand their importance and that of their respective job to the organization’s continued success. Show them with numbers, graphs, charts, or other tangible measures how their individual contribution can add to or detract from the bottom-line. The organization is constantly changing and growing. They need to use their experience and knowledge to support these changes and develop their own skills in the process.
There’s nothing wrong with looking to the past – to learn from it. The dependable systems and skills used in the past got Ted and your organization to where you are today. However, new skills and ideas are needed to take you all into the future.
Copyright MMII, MMXVI - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.