I don’t watch football, but I am very aware of the outrage caused by Luis Suarez and his latest biting incident. This behaviour by itself is bad enough, but the fact that some people see fit to defend the player or try to play it down ‘because he’s a good footballer’ is just as bad, if not worse!
If one man bit another in a the street he would (quite rightly) be charged with assault or GBH, for that is what it is. The fact that the attack happened on a football field should make no difference at all. If, as a society, we feel biting people is wrong then it is wrong full stop.
The trouble is, people get blinded by short-term targets. They will forgive his behaviour if (within a 90 minute window) he scores enough goals to get a good result for the team.
The same happens in businesses up and down the land. Particularly if those business are built around achieving short-term goals: the weekly sales target, the monthly profit margin, the daily output target. The ‘best’ sales person, the most ‘commercially-minded’ manager, the most productive operator are almost left to their own devices to achieve the result by any means possible.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve worked with bullies, with people who manipulate the system, people who break the rules or sabotage the work of others just to deliver the top result. Their managers know what’s going on, but they ‘need’ their best performer to deliver results so they turn a blind eye.
In the mean time, people who are doing things right, who are good team players, who are behaving ethically and working collaboratively are trodden on, sidelined or even bullied. These people would be able to deliver long-term success and sustainability for a business but because of the way they are treated, and the way they see bad behaviour effectively being rewarded, they leave and take their talents elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the loose cannon continues to gain power. Until of course, they decide to leave (usually for bigger bonuses or a fancier job title), and where does this leave the organisation? With no-one delivering their immediate short-term targets, and absolutely no-one able to build a credible business.
Thankfully, these instances are fewer than they were 20 years ago. Organisations are seeing the value of Values, and are increasingly using them to define ‘what good looks like’ in terms of performance. Performance management systems need to take behaviour into account as well as tangible achievements. Therefore, if someone is achieving targets but doing it in the wrong way, they should not be considered the ‘best’ performer. That said, it still takes a strong manager to tell the one with the best results that what they are doing isn’t acceptable. They need to show courage, consistency, be a role model, stand up to the individual and tell them ‘no more’, and yes, take a hit in the short term if that’s what it takes.
If you need help defining ‘what good looks like’, designing performance management systems, defining your Values or bringing them to life in a practical way, we can help. The way we behave as individuals and as businesses creates our reputation. Surely, everyone wants a good one? I don’t care if Suarez is the best footballer, I wouldn’t want my son to meet him… Now Steven Gerrard (from what I understand) is a much better role model, and a pretty good footballer to boot!