“If I go there will be trouble an’ if I stay it will be double. So come on and let me know… should I stay or should I go”. While the old familiar hit from The Clash was about personal relationships, much of it can easily apply to work relationships.
Whether you are the owner of the company or a manager responsible for the department, you should always be assessing your team. You need to be able to tell the difference between the contributors and those that look the part, talk the part and claim the part, but fall short of fulfilling the part. These are the people that live for themselves, damage relationships and are a drain on the organization. We will refer to these folks as the pretenders (yes, another band from the 80s…no pun intended). Let’s look at the differences between contributors and pretenders.
With Contributors, decisions are made based on the greater good of the organization and contributors will give up a position to achieve a mission. Pretenders, on the other hand, will give up a mission to achieve a position. Status, title, pay and getting to the next level are all important to pretenders.
Contributors are generally team players happy to share the spot light, whereas pretenders are self-promoting and quick to tell you about their accomplishments and how valuable they are to the organization. Quite often, they take credit for others’ hard work and ideas.
Pretenders are job hoppers; while they may not be successful in the present position, they believe they will be successful somewhere else and are always looking for the next promotion. They have a mindset that the grass is greener over there where people, tools, managers and coworkers are not holding them back.
Contributors are engaged, love what they do and do it well. They deliver on promises, whereas pretenders promise the goods and spend a lot of time justifying why they have not met deadlines or achieved their goals.
So what do you do about it? I encourage you to take a sheet of paper and put a line down the middle. List your contributors on the right and your pretenders on the left. You have just created what may be your first organizational review. Now you need a plan for each of the people in the left hand column to either develop or exit the organization. As for the names on the right hand column, it would be wise to develop a retention plan.
If you are having a difficult time putting someone on either side, then examine the reasons you are considering the left hand column. Mark these as the development areas for this person. This is where you need to have a candid discussion with the individual and together build a development plan to get the person to the right side of the page.
We have worked with a lot of organizations that have hired very talented, capable people who look great on paper but are very disruptive to the organization because they are not true contributors. Sometimes the answer is that they need to go, but owners and managers struggle with how to make that happen. This is where experienced HR people can assist in getting the right talent into the right positions. Having a workforce of engaged, high contributors is good business practice. Just think what that will do for your productivity and bottom line.
Aileen Turnbull is a Director of HR Services with Verus Recruiting Consultants, where she works with organizations to develop and align people strategies that drive business results.