During recent interviews with three experts in human resources and employee training and development, the same question was posed to each: “Is every workplace ‘maverick’ worth saving?”
As earnestly as a manager may approach his job as a “coach,” is there ever a time when an uncoachable employee should be retained? What if he’s a super salesman but he’s a pain in the butt to get along with and in fact often interferes with the performance of other employees? “Would you keep him on your payroll?”
Their responses covered the gamut from “Yes. Every employee is savable” to “No, let them go.”
Tom Iverson, Training & Development Manager, Titan Machinery, West Fargo, N.D.
“Yes, I do. If the person is totally disengaged, affably disengaged — I’ve heard them called cave dwellers — where they’re constantly against virtually everything, and they dwell only on themselves, it’s going to be a hard pull to get them to be engaged and coachable. But on the other hand, I’ve seen it happen.
“I would hope that I could convince him to be coached. In most circumstances, if he was a ‘rainmaker’ and not coachable, I would certainly figure out a way to keep him employed and work on his level of engagement. I would put significant effort into working with that person so they could be retained. Both managers and employees have a lot to gain by the coaching relationship. In this case, where it was someone who is a rainmaker I think we could work with them. Of course, they can be even more effective if they are receptive to coaching.
“In almost every case, there’s a reason why they don’t want to be coached. It could be a fundamental issue of trust and respect and we’d have to try to figure out what that issue is. I believe almost everyone can be motivated in the coaching atmosphere. Both managers and supervisors can motivate almost anyone in that atmosphere, but coaching is harder than barking orders at them. Properly coached, means you’re looking to develop a long-term relationship of trust. In the long run, the effort is worthwhile and good for the employee, manager and the dealer.”
Larry Cole, Jerkins Creative Consulting, Benton, Ill., www.jccservices.com
“Let’s assume this is a salesperson who’s bringing in $25 million in equipment sales annually, but he’s killing other parts of the organization. This is a tough call for any boss.
“What needs to be done is to put a system in place that requires his cooperation. For example, before that sales guy goes out and makes the sale, there needs to be some structure to the process of delivering the product, and that requires coordination between him and other parts of the organization that have to be part of that delivery process. If there’s one thing that a person like this doesn’t want to happen, is for his customer to be angry with him. This can affect his future sales and sales commissions.
“So, the sales manager has to get all the players together and review what’s been promised, and how they’re going to work together in order to deliver the product as promised. Theoretically that kind of cooperation should take place before the sale. But if it doesn’t, then it has to take place after the sale. And managers MUST hold everyone involved accountable. This must happen and no one is let off the hook.
“If this structure doesn’t work, or the sales manager doesn't hold the process accountable, then personnel changes need to be made.
“The sales manager may not be good enough to hold the process accountable. If that's the case, perhaps the dealership needs to look for a new sales manager. And, without a doubt, the maverick must go if the sales manager does everything she or he can and maverick continues to refuse to take direction.
“We’re not doing the organization any good if we’re promising things that we don’t deliver — everyone suffers including the difficult salesperson. The need for this type of coordination ties the salesperson’s success with that of the dealership. It’s the sales manager who makes it happen and he must hold everyone accountable for their individual parts that it takes to make the whole process successful.”
Michelle Currie, Senior Consultant/Coach, Currie Management Consultants, Worcester, Mass. www.curriemanagement.com
“No. In today’s world, the customer’s relationship is by far stronger with the dealership than with any individual person in that location.
“If the person is not willing to do the self-awareness exercises to determine that his behavior is getting in the way of the ultimate goals of the organization, there’s nothing you can do. Give it up.
“I can already hear the sales guy’s argument. ‘But I sell so much, and I’m going to take all those customers with me.’ Well, I say good luck!
“Just think about how we sell today. We don’t just sell equipment, we sell the equipment with a guaranteed maintenance plan, and so taking a customer away is not going to be easy. It just isn’t. I’ve talked to more dealer principles and sales managers in all kinds of industries; customers following a salesman are no longer the case. The ease of moving from one dealer to another is a lot more costly and disruptive than it’s ever been.
“They might like old Joe a lot, but we’re talking about big money out of the customer’s pocket as well as a big inconvenience. They’re going to question why did he leave? But customers know that this business is no longer a one-man show.” FE