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When Does Being a Jerk Matter?

When how to get the job done becomes as important as getting the job done

So we’re approaching the end of the year, the time when we reflect on what we’ve done during these past 330+ days and what lies ahead.

If you’re a leader, you’ll likely also reflect on what your team has done during these past 330+ days and what lies ahead for them.

In particular, you may ask yourself, “Do I have the team needed to accomplish our 2019 objectives?”

And so, here are 3 quick questions for answering that:

1) Are They Competent, Still?

Not a revolutionary concept, but one that is often overlooked.

Your 2019 goals are different from your 2018 goals.
Likely, more is being asked of you as a leader in 2019, and more will be asked of your team.

The reality is that economies and industries are changing faster than some people can.
And that is not an indictment of your people.
To repeat, that’s not an indictment of your people.

But it is the reality.  And it’s a reality many leaders find themselves in.

So, are your people competent?
Do they still have the skills to be successful in the future?

No.  Then develop and coach them fully.
If you truly have, and done so thoroughly, and they still aren’t up to the task, then compassionately help them seek alternative positions inside or outside your organization.
Yes.  Proceed to Question 2.

2) Do They Deliver Results, Consistently?

As a leader, the scarcest resource you have is your time.
And how you allocate it is paramount (see the 60-Second Read Do You Master the Leader’s Triumvirate?).
You don’t want to have it drained by those who don’t deliver results, or do so so inconsistently that you can’t focus on your key priorities.

Do they get results? consistently?  i.e. reliably, and without your having to routinely intervene, “motivate”, or remind them?
No.  Have a frank and earnest conversation in which you let your direct report(s) know they are not hitting the mark; what hitting the mark looks like (be specific, don’t talk in generalities); and what you will do to best support them in hitting that mark (and ask them for suggestions as well).
Yes.  Proceed to Question 3. 

3) Are They Adept?

Many high-potential leaders are unknowingly blinded by their success.
To-date, they’ve received promotions, salary increases, bonuses, praise, awards, etc. for getting the job done.
Few companies give out awards for getting along well with others.

At some point in their ascent, though, the balance shifts, and how they get the job done becomes as important as getting the job done.
Why?  Well, if they’ve ascended to senior/executive levels, they end up being surrounded by similarly competent people who also deliver consistently.
And at higher levels, work gets done in collaboration with peers, as opposed to solely through direct reports.

Most importantly, it’s not a given that others will want to do what they need them to do.

So those who lack influence, who lack interpersonal skills, who would rather “just get it done than do that people BS” often find themselves marginalized and compromised, but sadly, don’t know it.

So, are they adept?
No.  Then get them some confidential feedback and coaching so they can see for themselves the limitations of their approach, and improve it.
Hopefully, that will suffice.  If it doesn’t, then see “No” under “Are They Competent, Still?”

Yes.  Congratulations, you’ve got some solid talent working with you.
But, high performers know they’re high performers, and have multiple career and job options these days.
So continue to coach, develop, and challenge them.  High potentials and high performers value the opportunity to stay working with a manager who’s similarly high-performing and who’s fully invested in their success.