Do you have a team member who has gone rogue?
In any small to medium-sized business (defined by Harvard Business Review as under 200 employee’s and $100 MM in T/O), there are so many moving parts, which are overwhelming at times.
Add human decision-making and emotions to the mix, and complications arise that can either make or break an attempt. This is why being a CEO with staff requires you to not only manage yourself but an entire team of different people.
Throughout my experience (especially once the business gets to a particular size and T/O) patterns start to emerge with the way staff interact with each other and the company itself; and in some cases, a new breed of staff member appears: the “rogue”.
The rogue is a staff member who believes they are better, smarter or a harder worker than the employer. Anytime they feel threatened in their job, they begin to hold the business owner hostage by acting poorly, making selfish decisions, and threatening to quit every occasion they get. Interestingly, the rogue will also often question or undermine your decision just for the sake of it, regardless of what it is.
However, they do this in a subtle way by, often, speaking negatively behind your back with other staff members, and seeding doubt and anxiety with those they meet. To top this off, many rogues are in positions of power – a general manager, project manager, estimator, 2IC etc. – so the rest of the staff have to pick a side. Crazy, right?
So, how do you deal with this?
Before I tell you, I need to preface this by saying this is my approach, and you can take it and do as you wish. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I wish I had a magic pill to give you, but unfortunately, I don’t.
1. Make decisions
When you know you have a rogue in your midst, you need to make decisions on how to proceed. Do you want to rehabilitate or terminate their employment? I know plenty of business owners who would rather have these employees in their business (better the devil you know) instead of confronting them. I hear excuses all the time: “who else can I get?”, “I’ll be stuffed without them”, “It’s hard to find someone else and spend time training them,” and so on. It’s almost as if they are suffering from a hostage crush (like when the hostage falls in love with their captor).
Chances are, you’ve seen the employee in question act rogue for a while now, but you’ve chosen to do little or nothing about it. Either way, to solve this issue, it’s going to need some action on your behalf.
The reason I use this word is that a rogue has developed specific habits and patterns that I mentioned earlier, and these patterns must be rewired to those of an employee who is courteous to you and to others, and a believer of your cause. This is why they’ve gone rogue in the first place – they have lost that connection with you and the cause.
Here are a few steps I would take:
a) Confront – Bring the employee into your office and make them aware you’ve noticed their behaviour, and the effects that it is having on you and the company. After all, you are the employer, right?
b) Control – You need to control the situation by finding out the real reason behind their behaviour: the source of the problem itself. There is always a reason why this occurs.
c) Command – Once you have found the reason for the behaviour, it’s time to regain control of the ship. If you don’t show authority, then staff members may decide to do their own thing on your dollar. Begin with their job role, responsibilities and most importantly, expectations. This makes it clear for everyone.
If you are choosing instead to terminate the employee from your business, here are some steps to take:
a) Seek advice – This is super important as every employee has OH&S rights when they sign their employment contract; so ensuring you do this in a professional way is critical.
b) Written warning – You must have grounds for dismissal and documenting this is important. Once you have written your case for termination, I would suggest you then use the steps above (confront, control and command). Sometimes this is what it takes to get them back on track.
c) Prepare – A problem I have witnessed time and again is that business owners are ill-prepared when terminating and/or losing an employee. They fall back into the “I’ll just do it myself” mindset. This is not a good outcome. A smart move would be to start to look around for the next employee to fill that position before it becomes available. Make sure you do this tastefully, and discretely, as you don’t want to upset the rest of your staff by adding panic to the ranks.
d) Effective immediately – If you have exhausted all options and no further progress is possible, then it’s time to act swiftly. I’m not a big fan of terminating an employee and then asking them to stay on until you find a replacement. If they were rogue already, imagine what their behaviour will be like now! I like to manage the situation by terminating them effective immediately, and if there are any payouts or hand-overs you can work that out.
I know that for an employer this is tough. Simply having to deal with the situation is stressful enough, but you will inevitably come across employees like this.
It’s important to mention there are some cases where the employer is equally to blame, and they need to take extreme ownership over their employee’s behaviour.
If you’re currently experiencing something like this in your business then I wish you the best of luck in dealing with it and will remind you that there is always a way forward.
Nick (the only way is UP) P