Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite Dies at 92

Walter Cronkite, the long-time CBS News anchorman once called "The Most Trusted Man in America," has died, according to reports published late Friday. He was 92.

At every turn, he acted as if he had a responsibility to his audience. He didn't do the right thing because he thought it would help him get ahead and then one day he'd get his share. Instead, he always did the right thing because that's who he was. No sellouts, no political consulting, no false transparency.

And, that's the way it is.

One bad apple spoils the whole barrel / bushel / lot / bunch.

Did you ever have a bad apple in your church or on your team? Do you have the right people in the right seat on the bus?

Bad apples are staff-members who cause problems, reduce productivity, or have a negative impact on morale. These types of people come with a variety of traits, personalities and problems. Most leaders are well-equipped to handle problems, but almost universally, leaders feel inadequate when it comes to solving personality problems or person-to-person conflicts. And these often have the biggest influence on reaching goals.

Identifying Bad Apples - Some easy to recognize signs of a troublesome people include tardiness, leaving early, failing to follow instructions, argumentativeness, and inability to take direction well. The best test for a bad apple is to ask if he.she negatively affects the accomplishment of the vision. Whatever he/she is doing (or not doing) can make it harder for other people, or for him/her to complete theirs. Some types of bad apples include backstabbers, passive-aggressives, liars, bullies, whiners, career climbers, gossips, laziness and more. The ultimate outcome of that person’s attitude or behavior is that the church/ministry does not succeed as well as it could have.

Evaluate Productivity - When it comes down to it, people are primarily valuable to the team because of the work they accomplish which helps bring the vision into reality. There may be people on your team who work for you that you don’t like, find annoying, or whom other people dislike, but the ultimate test of whether they are bad apples is how they impact productivity.

You need to look not only at that person’s own productivity, but at how he/she influences productivity for the entire team. A person who does not do his job well is an obvious problem, but one that drains the resources from others is not as easy to spot sometimes.

Understanding Bad Apple Behavior - Just as there are lots of behavior that qualifies as problematic, there are many reasons that can explain bad apple behavior. If you can pinpoint and understand the reasons behind their actions (or inaction's), you’ll be in a better position to be able to solve the problem.

Some common reasons for below par activity include:
- he doesn't like his job
- he doesn't like the work environment
- she doesn't like her co-workers
- she feels dissatisfied with the church
- he has skill set deficiencies he is trying to manage or cover up
- he really has no idea he’s not measuring up
- she is experiencing a personal, health, or family problem outside of work
- he has a basic clash with leadership
- she has basic personality traits that are just incompatible with the job or ministry

The best way to find out the reason behind their behavior is simply to talk to them. Find out what her concerns are, how she feels, and what’s going on in her life. It’s impossible to properly correct something if you can’t identify the cause and sometimes we tend to over think things when there really is a simple explanation. If you have someone who is not turning in projects on time, you could extrapolate all sorts of complicated reasons for this – she can’t work with the new version of the software, she’s trying to make you look bad, and so on, when the explanation might be as simple as the fact that someone else is giving her work that is more urgent. Find the root of the problem and you can then fix it. Unless you understand the core cause of the problem, you might end up just solving a symptom, but not resolving the underlying issue. A solution that deals only with the symptoms is going to be an incomplete solution. If you Spackle over a cracked wall in your house you can mask the problem, but it will simply crack again if you have a shifting foundation that needs to be repaired. Your team member is in the same situation. You can temporarily change some behaviors, but if the root cause of the problem remains untouched, you’re likely to experience problems with this employee over and over again. You won’t always be able to completely fix the problem, but understanding the cause can help you be a more effective leader.

Rehabilitating Bad Apples - To change a bad apple, first talk to the team. Find out what is going on. Take some time to observe and create your own conclusions. Next, think about what might be creating the situation. You might have a situation where two people are incompatible or has been placed in a situation that is outside her area of skill or confidence. If you can identify and isolate a situation or problem that is contributing to the behavior, you have a much better chance of creating a solution for it.

If the problem is inherent to the person’s attitude or personality, first demonstrate the benefits of being a good member by rewarding other members. Demonstrate the consequences of bad apple behavior – follow protocol for write-ups and discipline. Talk to him about what the problem is, but do so in a way that shows you want to work together to solve the problem. Be prepared to really listen to their explanations and feedback. Create a goal for the person. Don’t step back and expect him to get there himself – help him reach the goal. Doing so ensures success and shows you are on his side. Provide real suggestions and tips and always give positive feedback as you move along.

[from Great Leadership by Dan McCarthy]