Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are you Working With a Resistant Employee?

When a team leader slacks off, what is an employee to do? |
"You can't expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don't exceed the employees' expectations of management." ~Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks

Are you Working With a Resistant Employee?
The episode illustrated below dates several years back...
With client's permission to share for general value...

Client asks, “Annie, any insights on how to deal with a resistant employee, particularly a persistent one?”  

In that moment, I chose to respond with a silent pause followed by a quick chuckle... 

Client:  "Oh no... why do I get the feeling I need to sit down for this one?"

Me:  "Interesting choice word ... deal... Have you looked into the WHY factor to better understand the root cause of his resistance?"

Client:  "I haven't personally, but from what I understand, the manager has, and he has advised me that it is in the company's best interest to terminate this particular employee."

Me:  "Well, it appears you have your answer on what to do from one of your trusted hires ... the manager ... unless I am missing something here?"

Client:  "Annie ... look... something's not adding up here ... and any insights from you will be helpful."

Me:  "Fair enough... You mentioned that something's not adding up here... May I ask what that is?"

Client:  "Can you stop by my office tomorrow afternoon?  Will share details with you then..."

Me:  "Done!  Tomorrow afternoon it is!"

It was just over a year ago, when I addressed a similar inquiry on video... (you can hear it below).


To Deal or to Embrace? 

Are you choosing to deal with a "resistant employee" by terminating his/her employment, simply because that is what you were told by his/her supervisor?  OR, are you choosing to embrace the challenging, perhaps delicate situation through effective communication with tact, fairness, and character?  

Insight #1:  Drawing from my professional experience with culture building endeavors, a "resistant employee" -- 9 times out of 10 -- tends to be a direct reflection of the individual(s) who is/are in the position of leading the team.  Therefore, prior to making any final, reactionary decisions, which include employee termination, it is very important for the decision maker to proactively and openly embrace the dilemma from all angles (just as my client did).  A great starting point would be to reflect upon his or her own past and present choices followed by actions.  Were there any unintended consequences that may have occurred along the way, leading up to the question, "Annie, any insights on how to deal with a 'resistant employee', particularly a persistent one?” 

When Hidden Agendas get in the way 

Insight #2: There is resistance, and then there is resistance! When a team leader slacks off, what is an employee to do?  Is it in the company's best interest for the employee to remain idle and do nothing?  In other words, if an employee decides to step up to the plate and take necessary action to meet the required sales quota for the week that impacts company bottom-line, does that make him or her a "resistant" employee?  (Note:  The employee took the above described initiative -- after having gone to his/her manager asking for permission to help, although beyond the scope of his/her duties.  In this particular scenario, the manager said "no", that he had everything under control, when in fact, he did not).   

Here is an unfortunate reality that I have come across repeatedly, especially in the corporate world.  Such rare employees who may be tagged as "resistant" are actually the "committed" ones who are loyal and are effecting constructive change for the overall success of the company.  Unless there is a Communications Specialist on board to help facilitate and bridge gaps of uncertainty and unhealthy confusion ... their voice only carries so far, and their productive actions seldom get reported positively much less accurately, and rarely reach the ears of the top decision makers for proper acknowledgments and future promotions.  Instead what I have found is, these exceptional employees get shafted due to "EGO"-s at play, who exercise their authority to protect their own hidden agendas, always at the price of the company. 

Where Does a Business Owner go From Here?

If you are a business owner looking to build, establish and sustain a healthier working environment across all levels within your company, speaking from 20+ years of experience in working with leaders from various industries, any business owner should include a Communications Specialist on their team of "trusted" advisors and consultants to help bridge any potential gaps of misunderstandings, tensions, and unintended consequences to achieve desired productivity, performance, loyalty, trust, and ROI results with enthusiasm, commitment and impact!  When you find the right Communications Specialist, you will discover that he or she will be critically instrumental in the success of your business.

Did you find this article helpful?  

~Annie Armen

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