How many brilliant jerks do you know?

How many brilliant jerks do you know?

On a recent trip to the US, I visited Ground Zero, an area made iconic due to the events in September 2001.  It is a breath-taking and tranquil place; an emotional reminder of how quickly things can change.

We all know that change is the only constant, but with a robust business plan connecting strategy to your purpose you can create a successful business which allows you to react to and take advantage of your dynamic marketplace.  This will deliver you an improved lifestyle, better financial rewards and keep distance between yourself and your competition.

But what happens if, like the Twin Towers, your business is shaken by a major disruption? I’m not thinking about a shocking attack like 9/11, but Amazon, AirBnB and Uber have certainly disrupted their sectors and very few saw it coming or managed to do anything about it.

You could argue that there are very few disruptor businesses and you’d be unlucky if one came along in your sector. But for many SMEs, the disruptor is inside your business and either you don’t realise it, or you do but do nothing about it.  These disruptors are often highly talented and qualified employees but who make excuses about not meeting your quality standards, not completing work on time or who simply absorb too much of your time and headspace.

Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, is quoted saying,

“Do not tolerate brilliant jerks, the cost to teamwork is too high.”

So let me ask you some questions:

  • Do you recruit on skills first and values second?
  • Do you have employees who constantly erode your time?
  • Do you struggle to get new starters delivering results quickly?
  • Do you extend the probation period of new starters because you are not sure about them?
  • Do you have team members who clock-watch and are always moaning?
  • Do you tolerate the behaviour of high calibre talent because you don’t want to lose them?
  • Are you loyal to the team that helped you to grow, even if they’re no longer performing?

A client I’ve been working with had a member of staff resign recently. They had invested a lot in this person, who was a key member of the team. But he had also been taking up a lot of time as the business owner worked with him to try to get him to line up with the company’s values. The client described feeling relieved when this person resigned. Would you feel that way if one of your team left?

It might seem appropriate for you to manage the ‘issues’ that come with a high performer or hope for the best from a poor performer.  You are busy with other priorities in your business right?

The fact is that if your team cannot deliver on a regular basis without your input and micro-management, you have the wrong team. This is where the disruptors win.

Both research and our experience suggest that not dealing with disruptors is the wrong strategy. A bad hire, particularly in a customer facing or sales role can cost you in excess of 20 times their salary.

A disruptor who earns £25k per year will cost you £500k in lost opportunity.  Can you afford to not deal with the disruptors and the brilliant jerks? What choices do you have?

Values are intrinsic to our behaviours and incredibly difficult to change (see my blog on values being the reason for the controversial exclusion of Kevin Pietersen from the 2015 England cricket team). Skills, however, can be taught to people who are willing to learn.

Too many SME business owners recruit based on technical competency and not values.  Competency suggests that they can do the job, values suggest that they will do the job.

So your disruptors need to be tackled or you risk poor performance and a lot of stress. What are you going to do to identify and deal with the disruptive people in your team? Are you certain of your values and do you expect your team lives up to them? And will you be brave enough to tackle the brilliant jerks as well as the poor performers?

Developing a dream team is one of the essential building blocks to running a successful business. If you are working too many hours or are frustrated about any element of your team, it’s time to take action.

Access our tool here to get started:

brilliant jerks