We’ve all seen it happen — employees who bail out before a project is due, leaving co-workers working late to get a project done; who agree to tasks and deadlines, but don’t deliver on their promises; or who take credit for the work performed by coworkers. These employees may initially seem agreeable because they say what they think others want to hear, but their actions speak otherwise. For lack of a better term, at my company we call them “jerks,” and they’re not allowed. Employees who put their own goals and needs before those of their co-workers, team and clients are not only frustrating to work with, but their flagrant disregard for others can cause friction in the workplace, pull projects off course, and negatively impact customer service.
While the obvious difficult behaviors, such as bad language, yelling or aggressiveness in some workers can be apparent to everyone, the self-absorbed workers may be more difficult to spot initially, but are equally damaging to an organization. Recognizing the negative impact the wrong person can have on a work environment – blatantly or more covertly – we’ve instituted a “no jerks allowed” policy.
While technical or industry-specific credentials are a must, it’s just as important – if not more so – to find employees who have the Emotional Intelligence required to succeed. People can always be trained on technology, but it’s much harder to overhaul someone’s personality. Here are best practices in recruitment, training and team building that not only help identify and weed out jerks, but also help to build a collaborative, team-oriented environment focused on high standards and customer service:
Regardless of the industry a business is in or nature of the work required, the most valuable aspect of an employee is his or her character. Creating an exceptional work environment of authentic, collaborative employees requires ongoing work and commitment. The first step is establishing a “no jerks allowed” policy that can be shared throughout the interview process, and inspired through ongoing training and team building. The benefits of creating a cohesive team committed to high standards are numerous. Not only will it help attract and retain top talent, but it will also enable a company to deliver exceptional work, and put the firm and its clients on a fast track for growth.
Jeffrey Palermo, MBA graduate of the Jack Welch Management Institute, is CEO of Austin-based Clear Measure, a custom software engineering firm. A recognized expert in his field, presenter and author, Palermo has built two leading software engineering firms.
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