Are You Letting Your Best Performer Kill Your Team?

Blog - Team Member on FireYears ago, I worked for a telemarketing company that specialized in raising donations for police organizations.  Most of us would raise about 1000 dollar’s worth of pledges on a normal day.  But there was this one guy that would pull in 3000 or more every single day.  Management loved him because he made the numbers look great.  Here’s the thing though – the guy was a hard-core alcoholic.  He would usually come in drunk and continue to drink throughout his shift.  Many nights he would have to be sent home early because he was no longer intelligible on the phone.  Even worse, the return rate for pledges that were sent out to people he talked to was less than 10% (normal return rates were between 30-50%).  The reason was that he usually guilted people into pledging and, once they got off the phone with him, they felt so bad about the call that they decided not to send the pledge in after all.  Yet, management kept him around because the numbers looked good on paper at the end of the day.  You can guess what message this sent to the team.

Well hopefully not as bad as the example above, letting the star performers get away with cutting corners is a common occurrence in today’s work place.   This kind of blatant favoritism and lack of accountability absolutely kills morale and sends a number of terrible messages, not least of which is that, “as long as you bring in the numbers, it doesn’t matter what you do.”  This generally creates a culture where every employee is out for themselves, gaming is rampant, and the only loyalty an employee shows is to their next paycheck.

High performing teams require high accountability from everyone.  The feelings of unfairness that arise when different employees are held to different standards kills far more productivity than the extra (often dubious) results driven by one star performer.  Great leaders know that it’s not what results you get, but how you get those results.  The how is what builds customer & employee loyalty and delivers consistent, long-term results for a sustainable business.  That’s on top of the fact that it’s simply the right thing to do.  Teams respect leaders who hold everyone to the same standard and don’t see the numbers as more valuable than the team.

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