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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

3 Performance Killers Leaders Should Watch for and Stop

Performance killers are a reality, but it is up to an organization's leadership to be on the watch for such behaviour.  In fact, it is essential for managers to be trained to spot and address this destructive behaviour in order to build high-performance teams.  And herein lies the difference between teams and departments.  In teams you don't have this behaviour.  In departments that are experiencing challenging times and/or people competing to avoid downsizing, this behaviour is rampant.

As someone who has managed teams for close to 20 years, a former colleague reached out to me recently get some advice on some behaviours he was seeing in his own department.  With that in mind, I offered him the following description of what I was trained to lookout for as a manager.

Here are three performance killers that managers need to address and end:


1.  Cliques or Power Coalitions

     Coalitions frequently in group settings.  In this case, a few people align themselves with the leader and withhold praise or positive feedback outside the clique.  In fact, giving praise to other members of team is intentionally withheld and may even go as far as to persuade the leader that the other parties are not performing. 
Image courtesy of www.oldrightie.com -

2.  Enforced Silos

Silos can occur in conjunction with cliques or independently of another action.  In these situations, people involved are focused on self-promotion and their careers rather than the overall good of the department and ultimately the team.  Individuals involved in these actions will ensure that information is withheld from others. Marginalization of other departmental members usually occurs.  

3.  Alienators

   In this case, Alienators work quietly at first dropping hints to the leader that other people are not doing their jobs and/or not performing as well as should be expected.  Alienators are very skilled at creating the perception that he or she is concerned about the “team’s” reputation and ultimately the leader’s reputation.  Through continued conversations, the discussions escalate to the point where the leader believes that the Alienator has his or her best interests at heart.

    Managers should be on the lookout for these behaviours, particularly during troubled times. And when he or she sees this occurring, the manager must take the bull by the horns. Staff members can't address this.  The situation for those individuals will only worsen.  Managers need to look closely at the members of their department and ask questions like:  who is always finding fault with members other than their small clique?  Who uses pass aggressive techniques to slide in negative comments?  

The only way to stop this destructive behaviour is to set the stage that team members support one another and make each member in the department look good both within the department and outside the department.  That is a true sign of team participation.  While this is not easy for many mangers, good managers make it a practice to not accept anything less, even from people with whom they have befriended in the reporting structure.

These are only three destructive behaviours that can occur.  What would you add to this list?






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