Lesson 3: Reign in Your Talent.
Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel parlayed his new found Heisman fame into a whirlwind summer, which included an appearance courtside at a Houston Rockets game, taking batting practice with the San Diego Padres and partying with rap star Rick Ross. These activities seemed innocent enough. Manziel, however, has allegedly engaged in other antics that have invited sharp criticism including: shoving a graduate assistant coach, oversleeping his alarm at the prestigious Manning Passing Camp, and allegedly receiving money in exchange for signing autographs.
Manziel is a tremendous talent who has won lots of games and generated millions of dollars for Texas A&M. On the other hand, Manziel’s antics have placed himself and his program under the microscope.
Manziel represents a common challenge for employers: What do you do with an employee who doesn’t like to follow rules, but is a high producer? A sales representative with an outgoing personality, for example, may be very successful in generating sales, but says things in the workplace that makes co-workers feel uncomfortable. This creates a dilemma for the company. Continuing to employ the salesperson could potentially expose the employer to claims of discrimination or negligent retention. On the other hand, terminating the employee could result in a significant blow to the bottom line.
In these situations, management must step in and take ownership of fixing the problem before it damages the company:
- Review Game Film. It is customary for coaches to review the game film with the team to highlight successes and areas that need improvement. This is typically where a player may be “called out” for failing an assignment on the field. A practical first step in addressing a performance or attitude problem is to collect information about specific actions or incidents that are problematic. Meet with the employee and use the facts to give clear examples of behavior that needs to change.
- Address the team and not just the player. Discussing how the employee’s behavior puts the company at risk helps a high performer accept your concerns as a business issue rather than a personal attack. By allowing the employee to step into your shoes, you can increase buy-in and the likelihood of a lasting change.
- Coach the employee toward change. Create a list of actions for the high performer to take based on input from you and the employee. People are more likely to implement their own ideas. Explain your expectations and make clear the consequences of non-compliance. Like a coach, do your part to motivate change and improvement.
Kenneth Winkler, a shareholder at Berman Fink Van Horn, helps employers navigate the employment laws and regulations that govern the workplace.