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Management Side
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Winning and losing with people
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Ladies and gentlemen, legendary college football coach Woody Hayes famously said, "You win with people."

While I agree with that quote 100 percent, we need to be reminded from time to time that the opposite can hold true - you can lose with people, too.

Anyone in management strives to assemble the best staff possible, a "dream team," if you will - an experienced, talented group that is focused on goals, achievement, excellence and success.

If you have one of these "dream teams" in place at your company, that's wonderful. Congratulations. Hold onto each teammate tightly and never let them leave or retire - ever.

But in most cases, not everyone on a team is always on the same page, has the same goals and possesses the same can-do, selfless attitude.

Yes, people can help you achieve success; however, they can also create dissension, a toxic environment and can lead a place down the lamentable path of mediocrity - and possibly failure.

These folks can be venomous snakes, or they can be rather nice people who have developed poisonous habits and attitudes. Some can stick out like sore thumbs, and some can be very, very difficult to identify. The ones that are nearly impossible to spot are the truly dangerous ones - and the ones who can cause the most trouble and the most damage.

Some can be reformed, rehabilitated and put back on the straight and narrow ... while others need to go away as soon as possible.

Let's take a look at a few of these.

Many years ago, when I began a new job, I was having a discussion with an employee. I was his boss, and I can't remember exactly what we were discussing, but I'll never forget his response to something I told him...

"That's not the way we do things around here..."

Wrong answer.

There may be no substitute for experience, but it's been my experience that folks with experience can get complacent and set in their ways.

It's been a long time since I first heard someone say, "That's not the way we do things around here," but it certainly isn't the only time I've heard someone say something to that extent.

Most of us realize that the only constant in life is change, but when it comes to work and day-to-day operations, some either forget this truism, or apparently disregard it as fallacy.

In another case, an employee asked me to undertake a certain project. I told him he could, on a certain condition, to which he calmly replied, "No thank you. That's not my job."

Uh, another wrong answer.

We've written about legal, moral and ethical here before, and as long as it's legal, moral and ethical and doesn't put an employee in danger, an employee should be willing to step up and do what is needed to get things accomplished.

I worked in the newspaper industry for many years. I worked for papers of different sizes, and I can honestly say I enjoyed working for the smaller publications because I was able to wear a lot of different "hats."

When I worked at a larger newspaper, people didn't wear many "hats," and when I tried to take on additional responsibilities and encouraged others to do the same in an effort to diversify and make optimal use of time and resources, most folks looked at me like I was bizarre or totally off my rocker.

"Why would we want to do that?!? It's not our job."

I've had a few mentors over the past couple of decades, and with each of these fine folks, they were willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it took to get the job done and done well - and used their experience as an asset.

Conversely, I've seen where folks use their experience as a crutch. Since they've been in the industry for 100 years and have worked at a place forever, they think they've paid their dues and are indispensable.

They make far more and do far less than most of their coworkers, which drags down morale - or even worse, shows the younger generation that they can coast day after day, month after month and year after year until retirement.

These types of workers I've described above are often easy to identify, so why do they still fly under the radar? If you've got an answer, I'm all ears.

Next time, we'll talk about some poisonous snakes that are much harder to spot.

Steve Roush is Vice President, Content Channels and in charge of the International Desk at Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at steve.roush@taii.com.
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