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Good People in a Bad System Look Like Bad People

Written by Jim Coyle on October 22, 2015

Traction People Business Management

Good_people_in_a_bad_systemOver the last 11 years I have had my business, Nexus, I have probably said this phrase, “Good people in a bad system look like bad people” 300 times (if you are one of my big math people that is just about once every two weeks). The impetus of the saying goes back to the first year of Nexus when I was working with a local client.

Ashley and the Bad System

They had a person, “Ashley”, that they told me was not working out and they were going to fire her. We were doing some structuring of the company at the time (what we would now call the Accountability Chart) and I told them to hold off on firing her. I explained that good people can appear to be bad people if they are in a bad system. Ashley had a seat in the middle of the executive suite and the four offices that were off hers were all full of her bosses. All four bosses would yell out their door for her to do certain tasks. Hopefully, I don’t have to explain why this is a bad system. If I do, feel free to give me a call so we can talk about your “system”.

Attributes of a Good System

This is just one example of a bad system. It could be that a person is not getting the time they need from their manager to be successful. Or, they don’t really know how they contribute to the overall goals of the organization. Or, there are a lot of politics and in-fighting. You get the picture. What this leads to is that every company needs a way in which it operates - an operating system.

A system that creates a clear Vision where everyone knows where the organization is going and how it is going to get there. A way that helps create discipline and accountability so all parts of the Vision are being Implemented. Or, as we say, one that has Traction. A process where the whole organization is Healthy and cohesive as a team. If you have this, then you have a good system. If you don’t, I recommend EOS but what ever you use, make sure you have a way in which you are able to get Vision, Traction and Healthy in your organization.

Back to Ashley. Once we restructured the company, Ashley ended up shining as an employee. I am usually one to tell my clients to Hire slow and fire fast but this is the one time I believe it is best to make sure that your people are in a system that enables them to really shine.

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