Tough Love

They can be disruptive, defensive, un-
cooperative and downright surly. In the justice system they’re called repeat offenders. In the workplace they undermine management confidence, and make managers question their own competence.
In short, most managers find themselves stressed out, and in despair when they deal with difficult people.
We’re not talking here about the 95 percent of employees who do what’s expected. The 95 percent of employees who contribute their skills and personality that make the workplace pleasant for themselves and their colleagues. They participate with constructive ideas and bring sense of purpose to their work. They are keen to develop their potential and take on new tasks with relish. They can’t wait to learn more. These are the people who eventually resign, out of resentment and frustration. They seek alternative employment or are ideal candidates to be head hunted by competitors.
This is the 95 percent who often get little attention or positive feedback. Their boss is too busy stressing over the five percent of people who are exactly the opposite. We call these the ‘five percenters’.

Fathoming the five percenters
This is the five percent of employees who are (to greater or lesser degree) negative, unmotivated and often disruptive.
They end up getting most of the attention as more and more efforts are made to ‘deal with them’.
They’ve even got their managers jumping through their hoop, when we see managers showing gratitude when they ‘behave’.
They’re the small group who gets profusely acknowledged for doing well when the other 95 percent of staff are doing well 95 percent of the time.
When faced with five percenter, most managers begin by being reasonable. They make efforts to see it from the employee’s point of view and may even accept pathetic excuses for time. When the excuses wear thin, inducements may be offered. Such inducements are nothing more than bribe. Bribes may or may not work. When they do, it is only matter of time before they lose any effectiveness. When they don’t, what are you left with? Either way, it is back to square one and the vicious cycle starts again.

Crushing the top people
While all this is happening the other 95 percent of positive employees are watching and learning what works and passes for acceptable performance. How do they feel?
They certainly don’t feel motivated to go the extra mile. It’s unlikely they feel more loyal. Eventually they too think, “why bother with extra effort?” Good performance and positive attitude often go unnoticed and unacknowledged. Worse still there is very clear message that poor behaviour and performance are rewarded.
To be serious about performance, behaviour and attitude demands high level of skill to make the distinction between what matters and what does not. Deciding what is acceptable at your workplace is the foundation of your corporate culture (your work family). When culture is well defined, it is easier to select people who will fit in well. The culture of every workplace defines the “norms” against which behaviour and performance are measured.

Are you vulnerable?
Organisations lacking defined culture are most vulnerable to attract ‘five percenters’. With inconsistent policies and practices each employee usually gets different version of how things are done. Being “fair” to everyone is difficult when the basis for fair policies and practices is neither established nor communicated.
The Corporate Tough Love Programme provides the system and tools to address this problem once and for all. It removes the concern many employers have that they actually can’t dictate what they want, for fear of repercussions and litigation.
The Corporate Tough Love programme also establishes framework to avoid attracting ‘five percenters’.

The problem is yours
It is pointless to say “so and so has an attitude problem”. If you’re their manager, you’re the one with the problem.
The employee does not have problem. They gave it to you — over and over again. This is the way they are and the way they intend to be — otherwise they would have changed. Their behaviour makes it clear they will do it their way and you’ll like it or lump it or they’ll see you in the Employment Court.
Often managers are unnecessarily fearful of legal repercussions. This adds to the stress and indecision in taking firm action. Inaction by management simply condones these disruptive behaviours and the cycle continues.
Inaction also creates the opportunities for other staff to get caught up in the web as the game is played out.
The one similarity to the teenage Tough Love Programme is relentless consistency in setting clear expectations and agreements and acting on the consequences for breaking agreements.
Five percenters often struggle in other areas of their lives and may not ever have had someone to set boundaries. The programme is intended to open doors for both employer and employee, by recognising the dignity of the individual and the realities of business.
Go-ahead organisations are looking for competitive advantage. Effective resource management strategies don’t accommodate ‘five percenters’. Having programme that deals with these types legally, simply and constructively frees organisations to focus on the 95 percent of employees who are an asset — truly effective human resource.
The Corporate Tough Love Programme is designed for anyone with responsibility for staff. Designer Suzanne Couper can be contacted on Ph 0-9-376 0916 or [email protected].

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