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Monday, 6 May 2019

Problem With a “Terrorist”? Try Some Scenario Analysis!

I am always reluctant even to use the word ‘terrorist’ in a business context simply because of the evil connotations it has in the wider world.  I hope that my readers will accept that I use it to describe those members of staff who manage to combine great performance with an unacceptable attitude.

That is the simplified version and lately I have begun to realise that it is a “one size fits all” description that doesn’t even begin to cover all its various manifestations.

Discussing the issues with members of my Vistage CEO Peer group at our one-to-one meetings has ventilated a wide range of problems that, if not unique, are certainly uncommon albeit with overlapping  traits.

As an example one of my members has an issue with the leader of a small but very relevant subsidiary office.   He had been promoted rapidly from no.2 in the office because of the somewhat untoward and rapid departure of his leader.

A further complication is that the whole matter was a legacy issue.  No.2 is a pleasant, amiable operative with excellent relationships with some major cli§ens all of whom seem to rate him.

However, he has been promoted to leader and he is manifestly failing in the function. He agrees what needs to be done and then doesn’t do them. He is a doer rather than a leader and it is causing real problems in the office.

Without wanting to point the finger of blame, a god proportion can be levelled at whomsoever promoted him in the first place but he accepted and that is that.

The question is now what to do about it?  In these circumstances there is seldom outright mutiny, just that he prefers to do what he considers to be appropriate rather than what the business needs him to do.

One of our US Vistage speakers asks the question,  “Why does it take us 18 months to do something about someone we interviewed for an hour and a half?”   Decide whether it’s prevarication, procrastination or, worst of all, vacillation due to the fear of repercussions.    The effect is to claim the “status quo”, do nothing and hope that the whole matter will mysteriously disappear.  Don’t kid yourself because it won’t. In truth it will probably go worse, escalate and become a real problem.

There is a case for what I am beginning describe as Scenario Analysis. Because every terrorist situation is different to a lesser or greater extent it is useful to do some analysis of the situation.

There is little value in saying to someone “You are always….” or “You never…..” without evidence, described, dated and timed.

It may sound over the top but starting a dossier is a good initiative. So many people have said to me somewhat despairingly,

I don’t have anything specific, it’s just the behaviour and attitude that are the problem”.

Not true. If we even gently reprimand someone then we need to make a contemporaneous note and add it to a dossier. If this is not done then the miscreant can always and will go into denial mode.

Decide with him/her the role definition and what is expected of them, making notes of any slippages.  All of this might seem petty, even small minded but just do some calculations of the total costs of the status quo and prepare to be shocked.

In the end, the analysis of actual performance against expected should enable action to be taken, whatever that action might be.

Nothing will change for the better without some action and the Scenario Analysis dossier will be essential if the situation deteriorates.

It’s all very sad but the last thing we want to hear from other members of the team is:

“WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?”

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

As ever, poignant, direct and a useful reminder. I have come to know these folk as ‘cultural assassins’