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Peter Pays for Paul and Paul Pays for All

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Many of us can identify with knowing that one employee in the corporation who is intelligent, highly engaged and lives, eats and breathes for the success of the corporation. On the contrary, unfortunately we can also identify with knowing the one employee at the opposite end of the spectrum. This toxic, disruptive and self-absorbed employee with no regard for the corporation’s values or morals and has the potential to adversely affect team cohesion and productivity within the corporation. The two types of employees can be referred to as outliers. Outliers are those employees that stand out from the other employees in the corporation and they can be found in every corporation. As such, management is often presented with the conundrum of controlling the employee who is bent on being a thorn in the side of the corporation without frustrating all the other employees.

Normally, instead of dealing with the negative outliers directly some managers have the tendency to implement a new policy or rule every time an issue arises. For instance, in a workplace where employees are allowed the use of the company phone to make personal calls, an employee spends most of the day making personal calls. Instead of addressing the issue with the employee individually, management sends out a communication stating that employees are abusing the company phone and hence it is strictly prohibited to use the company phone to make personal calls. This approach accomplishes two things, first, it gives the perpetrator the impression that everyone is abusing the company phone and hence the communication is not meant for him and second, it perturbs those employees who scarcely use the company phone to make personal calls. The most sensible approach would be to deal with the particular employee individually. Our leaders must realise that by including everyone in their communication, they are placing undue pressure on all the other employees including those who already go above and beyond the call of duty.

Employees are the most important resource of a corporation. However, as in any group, you will find the few bad amongst the good. For this reason, corporate managers must exercise great discretion when dealing with employee issues, by carefully identifying which issues can be handled individually and which cannot. Thus putting an end to the nonsense of Peter pays for Paul and Paul pays for all.

Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training. She can be reached at [email protected]