The Good Enough, The Bad and The Ugly Behavior - 12
You know it is going to be interesting when we have to keep our source anonymous! When I ask anyone to share an experience for the blog, I always remind them that they do not have to do it. I promise no tantrums or bad blood if they turn me down. Mr. X said this story was too important and he hoped business owners would learn from it but he could not be named. And kids, boy was he right! This topic is a whole chapter in my upcoming book. Curious what happened to Mr. X? Let me set the scene.
Mr. X’s company was developing nicely. He had scaled enough that the design piece of his offering was being fulfilled by an accomplished specialist whom we will call Mr. A for our story. Mr. A was good. Really good. Mr. X was so pleased with Mr. A’s output that he had completely handed over responsibility for that piece of the business. This freed up Mr. X to sell, develop the rest of the team and support the other operational needs of Mr. X’s company. Then, the climate changed…dark, ugly clouds started rolling in. There were outbursts over other personnel. Mr. X continually received demands based upon Mr. A’s personal wants and exceptional allowances began.
Mr. X was growing increasingly unhappy. Mr. A WAS really good at what he offered the company (business was growing) but Mr. A’s behavior was creating chaos within the entire office and most especially with Mr. X’s calendar because there was so much damage control required.
One night, Mr. X was working late. Mr. A waited until everyone else left.
Mr. A stormed into Mr. X’s office and started SCREAMING at him. Mr. A screamed that this was not fair. That he was not leaving until he got satisfaction. He DEMANDED ownership or Mr. A threatened to go public with the intellectual property that was the “secret sauce” to their success.
Mr. A continued the rant by screaming and yelling more. Pacing back and forth. Waving his arms around. It was intense and startling.
What would you have done? A key employee that recently had taken something farther than you had because you had been so hands off? Now imagine deciding all this with someone effectively hijacking your baby. THIS IS THE NIGHTMARE scenario that keeps people from even considering hiring in the first place! And why Mr. X wants you to know about it.
Today’s lesson: Employee management is as much about protecting your company as it is about helping your staff.
Mr. X reacted the way many of us would have. He waited for Mr. A to get it all out of his system and peter out. However, by now, adrenaline and disbelief more than motivated his own response in kind. Mr. X proceeded to stand up and started screaming at Mr. A. This was “MY COMPANY”. He paced, gesticulated and just as angrily stood his ground and made sure Mr. A was aware that not only was this not going to happen that there would be quite a spectacular fight to defend his company.
Mr. X admits that he was unprepared on what exactly to do. Mr. X really was unsure in that moment if Mr. A had a case or any rights. He now knows that a conversation with a good lawyer would educate any owner of his rights and better protect his intellectual property and the company. Picking up the phone to get the attorney (or another 3rd party - including the police) involved and start to diffuse the situation can be helpful too.
Mr. X advises anyone concerned about such things to get to an attorney now to know your rights as the business owner. It is well worth paying an hour of whatever-their-fee to find any holes you have in your intellectual property issues.
Second, Mr. X acknowledge to me that he was far too “hands off’. I understand that it is exciting to finally find that help that “gets It”. That employee can literally give you time back because they are able to deliver like you. Maybe better than you! However, you need to be sure that your management processes are in place. Whatever new or innovative developments come from employees need to get documented to be replicated.
Consistent regular conversations, performance reviews and team meetings of ALL staff can highlight changes as they are coming down the line. This is the right time to have it documented and rolled into a procedure manual. It is much more difficult, right before you fire someone, to go back and say...”Hey. Before the door hits you on the way out, could you write down all that new stuff please? I am not sure I even know what you have been working on lately”.
How did it end for Mr. X and Mr. A? They never spoke of it again. Mr. A stayed on and received ample compensation for his employee role when Mr. X sold the company. Mr. X got his legal ducks in a row and strengthened his hold on HIS baby.
Scale on Purpose