|June 11, 2012
from the desk of Chuck Violand...
Good Monday morning, <<First Name>>—
As leaders of our companies we too often overlook the affect our behavior, even casual comments we make, can have on our people.
Today my colleague, Scott Tackett, weights in on some of his experiences regarding the affects Garbage Truck Behavior has had on the people in organizations where he’s been involved .
THE LAW OF THE GARBAGE TRUCK, Part III
How our Behavior Affects our People
by Chuck Violand...
Scott: I think we all understand that Garbage Truck behavior has a tremendously detrimental effect on every aspect of a business. High performance organizations sustain growth through the performance and dedication of their employees. Garbage truck behavior is a cancer that eventually spreads to every employee and affects every aspect of the organization.
Chuck: Holly cited an example of how this played out in one of her previous jobs. How have you seen this play out in your experiences?
Scott: When an owner or business leader engages in Garbage Truck behavior he loses credibility and the respect of the people in his company. These are the two most immediately recognizable results of Garbage Truck behavior. The word spreads quickly around the company when the owner is a loose cannon and employees become wary, wondering “When is he is going to lose it next?" When this happens, it plays right into the hands of our actively disengaged employees who now have more ammunition with which to draw fence sitters over to their side.
Chuck: Sounds like the old “misery loves company” scenario.
Scott: Absolutely. Worse yet, this behavior has a trickledown effect throughout the organization; and I’m not talking about economics. What I am referring to is the fact that Garbage Truck Behavior, when it begins at the top, has a way of working itself right through the organization. Employees feel that if the owner can do it, so can they. So the General Manager, or the Ops Manager or the Office Manager, starts dumping and before we know it, people are spending more time dumping then leading.
This behavior carries all the way to the front lines. When our techs are in their trucks driving to and from their jobs, the windshield conversation now revolves around the tech who’s trying to get out of doing his job, while he’s trying to convince his partner that the owner doesn’t care about anything but himself, so why should they care? By the time they get to their job all this trickledown “trash talking” leaves the technicians with a garbage truck full of garbage and no one left to dump it on but the customers they’re supposed to be servicing!
Chuck: So, as I mentioned in Part I of this series, if employees can’t dump their garbage verbally, they’ll do it through their actions.
Scott: Exactly. The bottom line here is that Garbage Truck Behavior results in de-motivated employees. De-motivated employees perform at the minimal level of expectations, doing just enough to keep from getting fired. They start showing up late for work. They call off work at the last minute. They stop taking care of their equipment—unplugging power cords from across the room rather than at the outlet, throwing equipment in and out of service trucks. Most importantly, they stop taking care of their customers!
When we, as leaders, consistently fail to provide the direction, resources and respect employees require, their desire to achieve is suppressed or even redirected. They experience frustration and a kind of learned "Why should I care?" They become motivated to do as little as possible in order to simply retain their jobs, rather than perform in a way that delivers optimal value to the organization and to its customers.Is Garbage Truck Behavior really worth all of this?
Chuck: As a business owner I shudder to think that my behavior at work, casual comments as well as Garbage Truck behavior, can affect the way my employees perform.
Scott: But it can. Someone is always watching and there are always consequences to our behavior—both good and bad. The challenge of leadership is to make sure those consequences are as good as they can possibly be .
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