Now I am not going to profess that I know Kevin Pietersen personally or that I have any inside knowledge about any of the occurrences that he has been involved in, but I am South African and very passionate about cricket. The reason for this article comes from the similarities I have seen as a successful business leader and many of the situations that KP has been involved in with the teams he has been associated with.
Now I am not going to bore you with a great deal of cricket facts, figures and terminology but I am going to look at the behaviour patterns that have followed Kevin Pietersen around and how many of these behaviours are often replicated in business, many times with devastating effects on the business.
Before we start looking into the behaviour and outcomes that have followed KP around, it is important that we understand that KP’s skill as a cricketer is not in question, no matter what behaviour came out in the teams he was associated with, his performance levels were consistently of an extremely high level. So let’s have a very brief look at KP’s history of being a member of a team and what sorts of behaviour and situations have followed him around.
Kevin Pietersen’s career as a professional cricketer started in South Africa with the Natal team, but this did not last very long as he was tempted to move to England, where he immediately blamed the South African racial quota system for him not making it as a cricketer in South Africa. He joined Nottinghamshire for 4 years, but after 3 years Nottinghamshire were relegated and immediately he wanted to leave, but was forced to finish his contract. His career ended here when the captain threw KP’s kit off the balcony. This appears to be the start of team related issues. He moved to Hampshire for 6 years, but only played very few times for them as he was now a contracted England player and on constant call for the national side, so no team issues ever surfaced here. He is now contracted to Surrey, but until recently, has not played for them much due to his England commitments.
With England, there have been many well published incidents, from having a rift with the coach and then making this rift public up to the present day series of problems with Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower as well as a number of team mates in the dressing room. Through all these turmoils, he has still continued to perform way above average on the international stage.
In summary, he is a very talented high performance cricketer who seems to be less successful at working within the required behaviour and conduct needed to be a successful team player.
So what does this all have to do with business then?
If you are a business owner or senior manager within a business with a team of people reporting to you, have you ever had a real high performer, someone who you have repeatedly said that you could not do without, but who always seems to have instances of disruption and bad feeling around them? I have lead many teams of people in business and have had to deal with people like this on a regular basis and over the years learnt that it is absolutely vital that these people are dealt with. It wasn’t until I read the book, “Winning” by Jack Welch that I truly understood why it was so important to deal with the high performing but non team related performers. In this book he carefully lays out the 2 key criteria to measure people on, Values and Performance. If you have not read this book, then I highly recommend you get yourself a copy and read it many times.
The people I want to talk about in this article are the ones that have high performance levels, but who do not show the values or culture of the business.
So what do I mean by the values or culture of a business? Well these are the rules that the majority of people live and behave by on a regular basis and are often reflections of the key areas managers or business owners keep promoting in the business.
These are the people who many business owners regularly fear losing because of the talent or performance they deliver to the business, but who also regularly ignore processes, follow their own rules and often upset everyone they come into contact with inside the business. As a result of this, managers or owners often have to compromise themselves, the systems or spend great deals of time running around putting out fires these high performers have caused. The most important question in this regard is what impact are these high performers who don’t really fit into the culture of the business having on the rest of the people they interact with?
Over many years of being involved in building high performance teams within a number of businesses, every time one of these people with high performance but who just don’t fit into the culture have left a business, something remarkable has happened, the rest of the team have stepped up and overall performance has increased. What is more, the atmosphere within the business has improved, more ideas on ways to improve have come from the team and most importantly, the energy and happiness of the team has improved considerably.
If you are a business leader who has a person working for you who fits the description of a high performer but who works against the culture of your business, just take a moment to think about the impact this person is having on the business, but more importantly, you. How many problems are you forced to deal with on a regular basis where this person’s behaviour is the cause of the problem? How many times are you hearing grumbles or complaints from your other people about this person’s disregard of rules or processes and you are turning a deaf ear due to fear of losing their performance?
If you can recognise any of the scenarios I described above or something similar in your business or team, just ask yourself who is then actually running the business or the team, you or them? Depending on the amount of compromise you have to make, you may just realise that they are managing you!
So what do you do with these types of people then?
Well the simple answer is; they have to go, but this may create a serious problem to the wellbeing of your business. The most effective way to deal with this type of person is to get them out of the business, but at your convenience. The best way to deal with a situation like this once you have identified it, is to immediately start making an alternative plan to keep the performance of the business at the required level, and once you have a working solution, you can move them out via the disciplinary process.
In conclusion, fear is never a good management strategy, so be bold and start dealing with any KP’s in your business now.
For more information on developing your team visit the Team Results website.