Have you heard the story about the know-it-all employee who really happens to be a great performer?
Recently, I was reading the book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni who applies the story to an executive who works at a fictitious computer company in Silicon Valley.
Early in this CEO’s career, as a manager with several people in her
department, she found herself in a situation where one of the employees
was irritating everyone he came in contact with, even the manager.
While it would have been easy to move him to another department or
relieve him of his duties, this guy could really crank out the work.
When the going got tough, he was the “go to” guy.
But, while he was extremely productive, his behavior dragged down the productivity of his co-workers.
I know I’ve heard this story before from some veteran shop owners. Most
managers try to tolerate the situation as long as possible because the
short-term gain from this person’s performance seems to outweigh the
problems he causes.
After all, maybe the problem is the other employees. Maybe they really
aren’t that skilled, or maybe they are just soft and don’t like to be
pushed and challenged.
In the book, the manager realized the situation was not improving
and something had to be done, so she promoted him. Remember he was a
top performer and could be a great role model for others in the
But, it didn’t take long for half the employees in the department to
quit, which put a serious strain on productivity. Another change had to
be made, but this time the manager was fired for promoting the guy in
the first place.
So what would you do in this situation? A team needs to work together for the greater good of the organization.
When you have A machinists, B shop employees,
managers and owners, the chances of things not running smoothly every
day are pretty good.
If you read the book, you’ll see that conflict can be good when it is
about real work situations that need to be addressed and resolved.
There are times when everyone needs to be heard, but that does not mean
you need to reach a consensus.
You know an engine is at its best when running on all of its cylinders
(or at least that’s the way it used to be), and a shop is no different.
Jeff Stankard is vice president of Babcox and publisher of its Tech Group publications.