Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's Better to be Alone Than in Bad Company

At a recent Chief Executive Boards International meeting, a member mentioned that one of his inside sales people had put up an online "store" site, selling products very similar to those his company sells.

The member didn't realize the cancerous implications of keeping such a person on the payroll, and his Board didn't waste any time mentoring him on the need for swift and sure action to get this employee out the door. There is no excuse or resolution for a breach of trust -- it's time to terminate the employee and get on with life.

One member quoted his immigrant mother, who has a 2nd grade education, saying, "It's better to be alone than in bad company." A profound observation worth remembering.

Bad company attracts people of bad character. And your company attracts people of bad character, if you either hire or retain people of bad (or even questionable) character. These are insidious forces, and have ways of propagating that's both subtle and cumulative:
  • Imitation -- People see others behaving unethically, and they copy that behavior

  • Reduced Inhibition -- People see others behaving unethically, and they conclude that the company doesn't care, or perhaps even condones such behavior, so they drop all boundaries of ethical behavior and assume "anything goes."

  • Self-Selection -- People tend to join up with those of like mind. Unethical employee behavior, believe it or not, tends to attract unethical employees. In this same conversation, another member cited his experience with having to completely shut down a remote office, after digging into problems of poor financial performance. Turns out most of the employees were drug users, and some were dealing drugs out of company trucks!! More on organizational cultures......

  • Self-Separation -- It's been said "bad money drives out good." It's equally true that people of bad character drive out people of good character -- they just don't want to be around people they don't trust or respect. You lose good people as a result of keeping bad ones.

So, when is it time to do something about a character problem? This week. More....

You may have acted to terminate a person of bad character, and then been totally surprised about what others told you after the fact. If you've had such an experience, please click "Comments" below and share it with others.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

1 comment:

  1. Here, here! concerning winnowing out the bad apples in your company. My business keeps me involved with a bevy of construction contractors. I have also found that un-ethical contractors attract like minded companies. I have found that the good contractors know who the other good guys are, and they know who the snakes are. The rats run in packs.


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