High Performers Need Enough Leash to Hang Themselves

2 weeks ago, the company I’ve been running for the past four years was was acquired by an American company. I learned quite a lot over the past 3 months while trying to get this deal done, but what I want to focus on in this entry is what I learned since the deal closed.

Although I had turn-over in the past four years at the VP Level, my current slate of VPs going into the close was a group of “high performer” employees.  Once the deal was done, the typical amount of uncertainty set in, as well as the right amount of post-close disorganization. 

High performers kept on a short-leash are liked caged-animals.  They need the freedom to try to affect change, but are more than willing to be accountable for their actions.  That’s a good thing.  If you give any one of my VPs the ability to make stuff happen – they go at it like a witch in a broom factory (Thanks Geico).  But take away this freedom, and they’ll get bored quickly, and start to seek opportunities elsewhere.

What I don’t understand, is why some bosses fail to see this.  It’s a win-win for the company.  If you give an individual the freedom and trust to perform, and they fail – you win because the outcome is that the individual will be fired and the company is better off for not having a mediocre employee.  On the other hand, if the freedom is given and the employee succeeds, the company wins because the employee is now empowered to perform, and you now know with certainty that you have a high performer on your hands. 

So the next time you want to know if your employees are high performers, don’t backstop their decisions with all of your wonderful advice. Find out who’s a high performer in sheep’s clothing and offer up a nice long leash.  You’ll win either way. 


~ by lschwartz on November 9, 2012.

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