We Hate Our Top Performing Employees

In my years of Corporate Experience, I can summarize many of my co-workers and bosses into 2 Main Categories:

– Team Players – They take responsibility for their own decisions, support you and believe in you. They share responsibility for your wins and for your losses.

– “I” Players – They will selectively take responsibility and support you at certain times of their choosing. They take responsibility for your wins and blame you for your losses.

During one role, I had a fantastic boss who was a real team player.  They were sharp, objective, fair and very firm.  It was challenging working for them, but a good positive experience that really gave me some great skills.

Then, there was a boss that was the direct opposite, emotional, blaming, accusing and went from one extreme to the other:

– They go through phases of ignoring you completely.

– Then when things go bad, they micromanage you like hell – and because they don’t know what you do exactly or how the business works (because they ignored you previously) they just can’t get their act together and can often make the problems often worse.

In one company, I was hired with a very specific purpose.  I had to go into a company with an objective to turn around the business.  Very kindly (even in the job interview) my future Boss made it clear to me that some individuals were “Hostile” and that I have to be thick skinned to get some Leopards to change their spots.

After 6-12 months when I had a good track record, some wins and more credibility my Manager was fantastic in the respect of acknowledging that and increasing my relative Responsibility and Decision Making Authority.

Some managers were copping a lot of flak for their areas non-performing and my manager was really holding them accountable. When they saw my status go up in the organization, some really turned nasty on me!

This is the bit that fried my brain, I was doing an excellent job, getting clear revenue growth, good feedback from customers – but no matter what I achieved some of my peers just wouldn’t work with me? My Manager was frustrated as well, and kindly explained to me that the company had been like it for years – and that some fresh blood was great.

After I left this role, it took me many years to really understand what actually happened.  I was being friendly, professional, courteous – and yet in this company I was the subject of ridicule, contempt and even some clear bullying.

Then it finally occurred to me and I saw this happen to other co-workers in other environments.  If you have the wrong mix on your management team or even just a few members with an “Empire Building” mentality you can be in a lot of trouble.  That is, in it’s most basic form you can get these type of workers:

– Business Builders – Individuals focused on results, team work and improving commercial performance.

– Empire Builders – Individuals focused on their own gains, ensuring the team works in their favour and ensuring others “Stay out of their turf”.

This company’s management had several “Empire Builders” on the team.  Well, if one of your peers is an “Empire Builder”, what do you think happens when you get some wins (and even worse greater recognition by your Manager?):

– They get insecure.
– They panic.
– They get worried.
– As they can’t win through “Honest Results” they use any dirty tactic to get even and get on top of the pack again.

And this is what happened to me.  It was very tough and being a young man – this experience honestly did upset me.  After a few years though it started to make sense.

It’s amazing what some people will do when they feel threatened, in that “Ethics” can often take a back seat to “Survival” (or at least “Survival” of a fragile ego).

This experience really taught me how change (be it positive or negative) can bring out the best and worst in people.

All I can say is be thick-skinned and don’t let those bastards pull you down!! 🙂