Something that shouldn’t be surprising is culture has a direct impact on the success of your business. Whilst it can be hard to quantify, culture is the lifeblood of any business. When it’s good, the health of your business will be too, when it’s not so good or even toxic, it will have significant negative health impacts on the health of your business.
So what would you do if you were presented with a situation like this?
You have a star performer. This person was recruited because of a significant skill gap you had in the business due to the acquisition of certain clients that demanded new skill sets be acquired. When interviewed, this person shone, they were enthusiastic, excited about the business, the work, the culture, the people – all of it. And their skills were top notch. A perfect fit.
This person transitioned well into the business and was producing work equivalent and above what you had hoped. The clients were loving the end result and things were looking rosy. This person had very quickly embedded themselves as a star performer and quite critical to the success of the work you were doing.
As time went on, you started to get some feedback that there was some complaining and undermining happening from this person. There were also little niggles that were occurring with other team members that you put down to everyone being under pressure and being tired. So you had a conversation with this person and they assured you all was ok so you let it go. But it continues and inevitably gets worse.
Until the point where you find out this person has not only attacked your integrity by lying about certain conversations but they have been progressively poisoning the culture and negatively influencing the team.
Now you’re at crisis point and something must be done.
BUT, what about the work, what about the clients? You have deadlines and it took so very long to find this person with the skills you needed. If you exit this person it will not be good for your clients.
So do you let it go for a period of time and get the work done or do you confront the situation immediately and acknowledge that whichever way you go will have consequences – one direr than the other.
The answer lies in how much you want to protect your culture.
Luckily, the above situation occurred over a relatively short period of time and this person was confronted about these situations with appropriate action taken by the business. The person has since exited and the business is now managing the fall out and the additional pressure this has placed on others.
Should this situation have gotten to crisis point? It’s easy to judge with the benefit of hindsight and most of you would say no. But these situations are very common, especially when a star performer is involved. It seems easier at the time to make excuses or give the benefit of the doubt because the fall out of the person leaving seems much worse.
However what is worse is the damage to culture and the health of your business. That takes longer to recover from than making a call early when you see the signs that things aren’t quite right. Don’t underestimate the negative impact these situations have and the time it takes to recover.
You will have heard of the term hire slow, fire fast. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to take months to bring someone on board; my meaning of this is you take your time finding someone that has the right skills and culture alignment, not simply hiring someone because you have a vacancy. The fire fast is simply that, when you know for sure that someone is toxic, if they are not supporting the culture, if they are causing damage to the morale and confidence of others and the culture they need to go, and fast. Regardless of deadlines and how long it may take you to recruit again. That is when you know you value your culture when it means more than results and avoiding the inevitable pain.