How to Destroy Your Superstars

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Scenario: "Dude, when we hired Timmy, he was motivated, passionate, and determined like one badass mofo. Now, he sucks. Too bad. Fire him. Yay!" It's the classic hire-superstar-fire-former-superstar cycle that happens in most businesses:

  1. Hire Timmy.
  2. "Whoa! Timmy rocks. Wow. Wow!"
  3. Uh-oh.
  4. Timmy sucks.
  5. "You're fired. Fired."

"Ay-freakin-ay. Why does that always happen?"

At the hint of something negative happening with Timmy, managers typically take the "oh-no-it-ain't-my-fault" approach -- thinking and pointing: "Them. Them. Them. Them." ...instead of the real culprit: "Me. Me. Me. Me." Too bad. Before the company could realize what a great talent it snagged:

  1. Timmy starts feeling ignored.
  2. Timmy's motivation drains.
  3. Timmy thinks he's making no impact.
  4. Timmy feels an emotional blah-age.
  5. Timmy's productivity depletes.
  6. Manager Mitchy realizes Timmy's "true colors."

How Manager Mitchy Transformed a Superstar Into a Worthless-Sucky-Dude

Based on sweet research from INSEAD, and from our own business experience -- here's why:

  1. The moment Timmy makes a small mistake, Manager Mitchy concludes Timmy sucks at everything.

    A small mistake -- that shouldn't matter in the scheme of things -- becomes overblown and out-of-whack. Managers clumsily use the slippery-slope fallacy way too much:
    "Timmy screws that thing up, so he probably will screw this _______ up, then this _______. He's not so smart. He's not the person we thought he was. We'll monitor him, viciously -- so he doesn't mess up, again."
  2. Manager Mitchy starts babysitting Timmy -- draining Timmy's confidence to kick ass on his own.

    Imagine viciously overbearing parents critical of everything their daughter does. Timmy feels the same way: his boss scrutinizes each and every little mistake he has. That makes him super-subconscious of his flaws. Instead of sensing empowerment, or the belief that he can rock-the-world-like-it-ain't no-thang, he subconsciously thinks he needs his boss to even perform satisfactory. Confidence-to-kick-ass = gone.
  3. "I'm no superstar": Timmy thinks he sucks, so he does sucky things.

    • Manager Mitchy: "Timmy really sucks."
    • Timmy thinks: "I'm really suck."
    Instead of passionately wanting to kick-ass, he lives down to his boss's expectations. So, thinking he's dumbo, he waits for directives. He becomes a robotic drone, and soon starts withdrawing from work. "I'm not so hot as I thought I was," he tells himself. Productivity = drainage. Creativity = lost. Superstar-in-the-making = gone.

How to Keep Your Superstars Rockin'

Don't fall into Manager Mitchy's managerial-disastrous path. Instead, know this:

  1. Every employee you hire will suck, somewhat. Let them redeem themselves.

    Even Michael Jordan made big mistakes. And, Jack Welch. And, Henry Ford. And, Walt Disney. If you're cutting people without letting them redeem themselves, that will leave you with a Company-of-No-One. Uh-oh.
  2. If anyone's at fault, it's you.

    Sure, Timmy made a mistake. But chances are:
    • (1) you provided him insufficient resources,
    • (2) you miscommunicated the task's scope,
    • (3) you're an amateur at understanding human psychology,
    • (4) you placed him in the wrong position, or
    • (5) you hired the wrong person -- and it's time to let him go.
    Incessantly using the "my-fault-my-fault" attitude drives you to confront the vicious facts of what specifically went wrong -- to keep those stars rockin'.
  3. The ridiculously-cool people want to kick ass if you let them.

    You'll meet two types of people in this world:
    • (1) people who can't perform -- even with a million-dollar bribe, and
    • (2) people who will excel-like-a-badass -- even with just a cheeseburger offer.
    Your job: remove the former from your business, then find and empower the latter. How do you do it? Give them the tools they'll need; then: get the $^@! out out the way. You'll see those superstars soar higher than a mutha-%^!&%!-bald-eagle-on-crack. We promise.

The phat moral:



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Posted on November 16

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