Patrick Lencioni is one EOS‘s favorite authors. See my business book list  which contains four of his books. He also writes great articles. One great one recently is his point of view about The jerk Factor. You can read the entire article here. The gist of the article is that there is a difference between being a Jerk and being a jerk.  Jerks with a capital J are obnoxious people that no one wants to associate with over time.

In EOS terminology, we exhort our clients to be open and honest. That is what Lencioni is referring to when he talks about being a jerk, with a lower case j. He also says that there are two kinds of jerks,- active and passive. Passive jerks are too fearful to risk the sting of being considered a jerk by their peers. They keep there observations to themselves. Active jerks stand up and are counted. They say the things that need to be said for the greater good, recognizing that for awhile people will think they were jerks.

Here are some examples of being a jerk in a small company,-

  • Any leadership team member to the sales leader – “Mary, your #1 sales rep, by volume, consistently has the lowest profitability numbers for products sold, has the worst customer satisfaction numbers, and is the source of more than 65% of customer support issues. He hurts us more than he helps us. What are you going to do about this?”
  • Any leadership team member to the engineering development leader – “Harry, your #1 engineer, according to you, consistently violates our core value of ‘respect for all others’. His sexist remarks have been documented numerous times. Why is he still employed by us?”
  • The finance team leader to the owner of a family business – “Bob, we have a problem in the accounting department. Your niece, despite a well documented and implemented training program, has been unable to become an equally productive user of our new accounting software. As hard as she tries, it’s not working. We have to find her another position in the company for which she is well suited, don’t you agree?”

Anybody on the receiving end of questions like these may think you a jerk initially, but the damage being done to the company due to inaction far outweighs the pain. This isn’t easy. It takes a great deal of trust in the business. But it is the right thing to do. These were hypothetical people issues. This applies to process issues as well,- doing things the same way because we have always done them that way. EOS offers tools for dealing with either of these kinds of issues,- the People Analyzer and the Getting What You Want tools. You can download them for free here.

What is the most difficult situation you have had to face in your business? I hope you are not being a passive jerk about it.

Photo Credit: Sarah Ackerman

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.