Nobody likes a bully. But imagine that your best salesman is a bully. You’re faced with a dilemma that may make you hesitate. Heroism and skill will be required to maintain standards. To read the rest of this article from the Cincinnati Business Courier, see: Don’t Tolerate “Stars” Who Bully at Work http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2003/04/07/smallb3.html
Even if the bullying is flagrant and public, you might think twice before risking a major revenue stream confronting that person.
Even worse, if bullying is more subtle and private – like a bully “sales star “ cuts others out of their share of a sale; undermines other sales people; verbally intimidates and abuses support staff - you may be tempted to hesitate and ignore the initial rumors.
A prevalent assumption in our society is that the first time you hear about a problem, you should minimize it, give people the benefit of the doubt and hope it goes away by itself. That assumption is wrong.
- Don’t let an untreated splinter lead to gangrene or a bullying problem fester. For every incident you hear about, there are usually five that haven’t reached you. This is just the first time the bully was exposed.
- Respond to such incidents immediately. Look for patterns of behavior, try to find witnesses to the incident or people who have been bullied separately.
- Bullying patterns of behavior test everyone’s courage and skill, especially the leadership team. Set the standards by biting the bullet rapidly with bullying sales stars.
- Usually, the abuse builds to a crescendo, but then subsides temporarily - so you give it more time. Eventually, you’ll spend so much time focusing on repeated incidents, you’ll be exhausted. That is a tip-off: The “cancer” has spread too far.
- After you act, you’ll be amazed at what surfaces. You’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Over the next two to three months, you’ll hear many more stories of bullying and hear many sighs of relief.”
- Even though the leadership team is insulated from the worst of the pain, you have to lead the way in demanding civil behavior as well as productivity. You’re just following common sense.
- Test sales managers. It’s easy to talk theories, but decisions can get more difficult for a sales manager when facing a bullying star might mean unmet quotas, lost personal bonuses and more time and money training replacements. The longer managers cover things up or let situations go unresolved, the more credibility and influence they lose. They look like enablers or collaborators. Eventually they will have to leave - along with the bully they’ve coddled and protected.
- Test the support staff manager and the “abused” individual. Courage is required to blow the whistle, since leaders usually favor sales stars. Don’t throw fits; gather facts and document evidence of patterns.
You can’t precisely measure the negative effects of bullying on everyone’s productivity, but every time you remove one of those thorns, the benefits will be dramatic.
Even if sales take a temporary hit, morale and productivity will increase across the board. Company revenues will shortly overcome the loss of that particular bully’s sales.
Often, individuals need coaching and organizations need consulting to help them design and implement a plan that fits the situation. To get the help you need, call Ben at 1-877-828-5543.