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What K-Rod Taught Me About Workplace Culture

Advisory Practice Leader, HNI

Last week, my 13-year old commented to me about the Brewers acquiring Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez and how this trade was going to help the late season push to win.  He seemed very excited, almost giddy to have some much needed help in the closing department.  Could THIS be the year for the Brewers?

What happened next was somewhat eye opening to me.  I brought up some of the alleged off-field problems related to angry outbursts with teammates, attacks and arrests, explaining that in some people’s eyes this guy is a trouble maker.  My son looked somewhat puzzled and replied, “Yeah, but he has the best breaking ball in the Major Leagues!”

How many leaders justify the culture killing-behaviors of an individual with their superior performance in a certain area?   Think about your workforce for a moment. Top to bottom, you may have individuals that are highly productive (whether it’s producing the most parts or selling more than anyone else), but are damaging culture. 

Are the masses affected by the fact that we justify or ignore the negative qualities of some because the positives are so strong?  Could this acceptance be causing others in the work team to perform below ability? How much are we wasting (muda) when everyone’s mind is on the bad actors antics?

Nothing will change until we find a way to identify these negative behaviors that bring the team down.  Call out those that are guilty of them, and give those people the chance to change and grow in a different direction.  If they choose to “fly right”, everyone wins.  If they stay the same…well, you know what you have to do. 

Rolling Stones and Shining Stars is an interactive approach that I take with some clients to uncover the negative and positive behaviors in the workplace.  Feel free to contact me or your HNI representative to discuss this further if you think your team needs a K-Rod intervention.