Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Find Your Indispensable Employee and Fire Them

As managers we all have one. You know, that one special employee we go to whenever we want to be sure a job or task is done right. No matter how much potential the rest of our team has we always give the special jobs or best leads to our “go to guy.” Sooner or later this team member becomes indispensable to our operation and to our own leadership success.

When this happens to you there is only one thing to do. Find your indispensable employee and fire him. You may think this is harsh but if you want to be successful in leadership you have to learn how to lead without a “go to person”. Here are six reasons why you should. (A point of clarification, I am not talking about Leadership Development, but I am looking at one aspect of Team Dynamics.)

You Become Dependent

Once you start using someone as a “go to guy” you become dependent on that person to insure your own work is done. If you know that they will get the job done you don’t worry about learning how to accomplish the task yourself. Even worse you stop monitoring the work and don’t follow-up on the results.

If one of your employees is that good they will eventually grow tired of following in your shadow and move on to another job. At this point you are at a loss because you have not learned how to do the job yourself or developed the other members of your team to assist you.

Fail to Recognize the Talents of Your Team

Often by giving the more challenging task to the same person all the time you fail to recognize that there are other members of the team that can do the work. If you have done your job right you should have surrounded yourself with team members who are both qualified and trained to handle any task the team faces. It is a known fact that a lot of people will only rise to the level of expectation you have for them. In most work situation the majority of your team wants to be challenged in their job.

Fail to Develop / Train Other Team Members

Another negative result of depending on a “go to guy” is that you fail to train and develop your team. A key part of being in a leadership position is to offer training and guidance to all team members in order to help them achieve their maximum potential.

One of the most obvious problems with this failure is you will be left without a backup plan when your “go to guy” leaves your team, because eventually he will leave. It is your job to train all your team members so that any one of them could assume any task if another team member leaves.

Strife in the Team

Remember back when you were in school and the teacher had a favorite pupil. What did you think of that teacher and the “Teacher’s Pet”? The same thing can happen in your team if you have a favorite “go to guy.” How do you think the rest of the team feels about the “Boss’s Pet”?

The most common result of favoritism is low morale among the other team members. Unconsciously their work begins to suffer and the team’s productivity begins to drop. The results are that you as the leader of team look bad in your boss’s eyes.

It is also a possible outcome of having a “go to guy” that the other team member may sabotage the work and performance of the “Boss’s Pet.” Once again the result of this is that you, as the leader, look bad to your Boss.

Giving Away Too Much Authority

Another possible problem of you continuing to rely on your “go to guy” is a tendency to give them too much power. If you give away too much of your authority the “go to guy” may become the pseudo leader of the group. The other team members begin to look to him for instructions and answers to work issues. This could result in you not being aware of what is happening within your team.

This would not be problem if your goal is to develop a leader but if you are just relying on him to get the job done it could result in problems for you as the leader. The ultimate problem comes when your boss begins to go to the pseudo leader because he believes he is the one who knows what is going on in the team.

Back Stabbing

Finally, there is the possibility that your “go to guy” and / or the entire team my try to sabotage your work and standing with your boss. This is usually a result of their loss of respect for you as their leader because of the favoritism you show your “go to guy.”

Most often it is your “go to guy” that stabs you in the back. If he is as good as you think eventually he will ask himself, “Why do I need him?” The result of this is he will begin to take steps to insure your boss knows who is actually doing all the work.

If we are good leaders we are working hard to develop and train our entire team. Yes, there will be occasions when a team member shows a higher leadership aptitude than the others and we will focus more effort on their development. But, we cannot do this at the expense of the rest of the team. This is what leadership is about.

Developing a “go to guy” into an indispensable employee will lead to your ultimate failure as a leader. Having a strong, well trained team will help insure your success.

Isn’t it time for you to fire your indispensable employee?

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