As seen in: Groomer to Groomer
“The Doctor is In”
By: Joe Zuccarello
Recently my wife and I had a rare moment out at the mall, by ourselves, without the kids. I am not a mall shopper, but more of a people watcher, but this day we actually had some things to get at specific stores only located at the mall. We finished our shopping and took a few minutes out to grab a quick lunch at the food court and then departed soon after for home.
Well, a few hours later, we knew something was not right. Our stomachs started to grumble, our bodies started to cramp, and other unmentionable actions were about to take place that would result in a completely miserable, bed-ridden weekend. Yep, you guessed it, food poisoning! To those of you who have experienced this, you know how awful this can be. For those of you who have not experienced this, consider yourselves fortunate.
You may be asking yourself, “where is Joe going with this story?”. I have often written about how we should pay close attention to our surroundings and how life imitates business in more ways than we think. Well, this particular occurrence reminded me about a variety of times in management where I felt that I had exercised some disregard for warning signs and that “little voice” we all have that tries to warn us against doing something that would eventually come back to haunt us. Did my “little voice” suggest we not partake in the food at the mall? Yes. Did I listen? No. Did I pay for this decision? YES!
For all of you who manage someone else, the following may sound very familiar. Just like the food poisoning punishment we endured because we didn’t listen to our instinct, many of us managers make the same mistake keeping certain employees on our payroll who cause us distress and discomfort. You know who I am talking about. Maybe, right now, you have a picture in your mind of someone who is, or who was, working for you.
We hire people after scrupulous screening, background checks, interviews, and even try outs, sometimes just to find out once we have them on our payroll, they become an “infection” to our business. Harsh words of comparison, but give me a minute and you will see just how true and appropriate this description is.
This person, who you decided at one time could benefit (feed) your team with their experience, ability, or knowledge has in fact, started to negatively impact (poison) your staff morale, customer satisfaction, your ability to manage effectively, and overall daily activities of the business. They are an infection. They suck the life right out of you. They seem to come out of nowhere, multiplying by recruiting others to their way of thinking, tearing down the strength of the business you have built, and left untreated, can kill your drive and maybe your business.
I have studied many different business models over the years and those who require skilled talent (construction, mechanics, artists, groomers, etc.) seem to have more of these infectious people working for them. Although some use their infectious powers for good, some will purposely or even subconsciously use this influence solely for themselves and will destroy everything else around them. These people cause you the most effort, the most dismay, and the most pain than other employees will. These people, because they know their skill is in high demand, can sometimes hold that over our heads, making us their puppets. The people who we have welcomed into our business, who we trusted, who we thought had promise, hold us hostage.
The human body is an incredible machine. If I had a tiny camera when I ingested the food that made us ill, I bet I would have seen my body identify this poison and immediately go into protection mode, planning whatever action it needed to evacuate the poison as quickly as possible, and not stop until the infection was completely clear. Yes, this effort is exhausting and really takes a toll on the body, but versus allowing the infection to remain, is much better exhausted and in a rebuilding stage than seriously injured or dead. If our management style could be based on a survival and health perspective, then we would be better at addressing and curing ourselves of this type of employee.
As you focus on becoming a more efficient machine, here is a quick prescription to jump-start your immune system:
1) Be sensitive to what is ailing you. Learn to read the signs, and “feel” what is going on. Listen to your little voice. It can easily tell you when you are about to get sick.
2) Identify the poison. Just like your body knows what particles are not welcome, you must be able to isolate the root cause of the problems and shield others from their influence. Do this quickly.
3) Attack. Voraciously attack the infection by putting a plan in place to rehabilitate this person or to remove this person from your business. During this stage, make certain the person knows what it is you want and what steps you feel are appropriate for them to take to fix things. After all, not every infection is discharged; many can be remedied with treatment.
4) Cure. Once you have attacked the situation, and identified action steps to curing the infection, put your plan to work and be diligent. If you miss a step (dose), it could set you back a step or two.
5) Heal. Continue to strengthen the healthy parts of your business so that future poisons have a much more difficult time even existing in your surroundings. Encourage loyalty, foster growth and learning, accept nothing less than perfect, and counsel weaknesses.
Of course I would have liked to add a number six, “Don’t eat at the mall”, but that’s not completely fair. Things happen to all of us for a reason. Open your eyes to your surroundings and see what is going on around you. Pay close attention to the well being of your business and everyone who is affected by it. Nobody will take care of your “business body” better than you can.