Two Kinds of Culture – Pick One

In my last post about the “Yeah Buts,” I challenged readers to resolve the People Issues that are keeping them awake at night.

Doing so is always hard.  The fear and pain associated with letting someone go seems far worse than the pain of living with a People Issue for another few weeks, months, or years.  That’s especially true when the employee in question is a “Wrong Person, Right Seat.”  In other words, they don’t share your Core Values but they do great work (they “GWC” their seat on the Accountability Chart).

As Gino Wickman clearly explained in a recent blog post, there are only three options when you’re faced with a tough Issue – live with it, end it, or change it. Leaders are often tempted to “live with” a Wrong Person issue – the pain of tolerating someone who doesn’t fit your Culture pales in comparison to the pain of replacing a top-performing salesperson, for example.

Problem is, today’s exception becomes tomorrow’s standard.  When you rolled out your Core Values to the entire organization, you introduced a new set of rules.  You told everyone they’d be held accountable to following those rules by consistently exhibiting your Core Values.

When you let a “Wrong Person” stay in the organization, you’re telling everyone that it’s okay to ignore the rules.  The least valuable employees will respond by behaving any way they choose – confident they will suffer no consequences.  Now instead of one People Issue, you’ll be dealing with three.  Then five. Then eight.

Your best employees, the ones that care the most, work the hardest, get great results and absolutely thrive when they’re being held accountable for excellence – well they’ll just leave.  Great employees appreciate the need for rules and like being surrounded by people who follow them.  They like achievers. They like being part of winning teams and working for leaders and managers who insist on excellence.

So unless you’re committed to enforcing the rules, hiring, recognizing and rewarding your Right People, Right Seats and exiting people who don’t fit, the best people on your team will leave on their own.  And then you’ll be stuck with everyone who’s left.

You’ll be so busy managing the wrong people that you’ll stop recognizing, rewarding and promoting the best people. Nothing irritates a great employee more that getting no credit for following the rules and doing great work being ignored because you spend all your time dealing with the lousy employees.

I believe you have a choice – fill your company with superstars who fit your culture, or the opposite.  There is no in-between. You must pick one.

Choose wisely.