Fire Your Superstars and Geniuses

By William T Batten


There’s a common story, or maybe I should call it a myth.

It centres around a supposed genius. Someone with specialist skills, unique contacts or simply too much history to let go.

The place would fall apart without them.

Unfortunately, it’s limping along with them.

They’re toxic, abrasive, judgemental or, perhaps, simply lazy. They know the organisation needs them and they intend to abuse that power.

What’s the best approach?

Well, it’s probably to coach them. To set clear expectations and ensure they stick to them. To warn them their behaviour isn’t acceptable.

Maybe that’ll do the trick.

If not?

Then say bye bye, birdie.

A fast way to erode organisational trust is to break the rules. Sure, you’re expected to show up on time and not make sexist remarks to each other… but the genius can get away with it. Maybe your manager sympathises, but they’re not going to do anything about it.

The genius is clearly disgruntled – why else would they act this way?

And they’re quickly making all their colleagues disgruntled too.

Everyone else sees the bad behaviour going unpunished. Often they’re on the receiving end of it. They have to work hard to cover the genius’ messes, tolerate their abuse and fix their mistakes.

And whenever the genius’ colleagues complain, they always get the same answer:

“I understand your concerns. But we need them!”

It’s a mistake.

Organisational trust is your ultimate advantage. But it doesn’t automatically come into being. By default, it erodes over time. It’s like a living system, demanding care and attention in order to thrive.

It requires you to be ruthless in protecting it.

Any threat to trust should be corrected.

And these dysfunctional superstars are super-sized threats.

Be merciless in fixing the problem. Remove them from your organisation if you have to. You might experience some short-term pain. Then again, you might not – maybe their value was mostly theatre and illusions.

Long-term, though?

Your organisation will be stronger for it.

When your actions align with your words, it fosters trust.

So too does setting high standards.

And showing you care about everyone on your team, not just the supposed superstars.

I’ve seen the back of corrosive individuals. Colleagues, bosses, subordinates – too many times to count. And every time, without exception, productivity goes up immediately.

So does morale, innovative thinking and other great stuff.

Even if you don’t care about your employees – even if you’re Scrooge McDuck, chasing every penny – eliminate obstacles to trust, no matter how vital they seem. Your bottom line will thank you for it.

The best way to enhance your organisation is with the ultimate advantage: trust.

But how do you measure something like that, let alone improve it?

Especially if your workforce is stretched thin, cynical and burned out on change?

There are simple, effective and proven strategies you can begin implementing today. I know you can unlock the creativity, productivity and joy of your employees.



Learn how today with my free white paper and all the resources you need to launch your own trust-based change initiative:


Categories: Opinion

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