Here’s a question that came up awhile ago from a West Coast retailer for which I do some consulting. The same question has been asked of me before from various other companies and I believe it warrants sharing.
What do I do about an uncomfortable situation that’s getting continually worse as time goes on? It’s in regards to my top sales person, a fairly long term employee that’s never been a team player and does not play by the rules of our sales floor. We’ve allowed this to go on (uncomfortably so) because the individual is our top sales person, writing over one million dollars a year in annual sales. We don’t want to lose the revenue generated by the individual, however we continually lose other staff (good people) and some customers due to this individuals bullying attitude and cavalier approach. My sales manager’s time and my time is consumed by attending to the fallout of this person's actions ongoing. Help!
Here are my thoughts on this:
There is no room on any sales floor for individuals that are bullies, liars, cheats or thieves, no matter how many sales they make. Individuals that upset the balance and integrity of systems that benefit clients and staff have no place in that work environment.
In saying that, a proper course of action has to be taken. The first step is that you do recognize that there is a real problem. We then determine that this employee’s behaviour is causing a threat to others and your business.
We’d then make sure we have the employee’s side of the story. Following that, we would document, document, document. It’s also important at this time to make changes to your operating processes and have the rouge employee sign off on them. You then must examine your responsibility for the problem. Once you have all the information, decide on a response. If serious disciplinary action is called for, you or your HR team would be best to discuss the matter with a competent employment law attorney.
The final step would be to take action.
I can share with you, that in the above situation, proper action was taken. The employee was terminated for just cause after not complying with new processes that were put into place. Now an amazing thing occurred once the bully was gone. Other sales individuals were able to step up and shine. This was a sales team of approximately 20 people, with ongoing coaching and mentoring and we were able to not only regain the volume of sales written by the exited bully, but surpassed expectations outlined in the Proforma we had built.
The end result was a happier, more effective management team, sales staff and customer base, all equating to a more profitable business model.
The world is just a better place without bullies.
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