Surprising as it may seem, humans are not naturally programmed to be selfish. Selfishness springs from the extent to which we tend to mull over matters and situations; impulsive behavior is much more selfless.
Selfishness on part of employees has proven to be costly to any organization’s success, not to mention harming such individual’s own career progression. So then, how do you manage such people, who always vie to be the ‘takers’ in any project or work association?
It is true you cannot change the basic nature of people. That is, if you are landed with a subordinate who has always been a ‘taker’ you are not likely to change him to a ‘giver’ naturally. But how you deal with such a person can make a positive difference to your overall team, and consequently your outputs.
- Before you jump to conclusions basis a short interaction, take time out and fully analyze a person’s motives and desires. It may be that the person you feel is the bad fish in the pond is showing selfish strains owing to some past bad experience himself / maybe he was acted upon in a similar fashion in his last job / or doesn’t trust your company culture. If you put biases aside and truly take time to understand your team members, chances are you would find most of them have sufficient doses of selflessness in their make-up. The trick is to identify and build upon them.
- Juggle up those KRAs: If there is a star performer in your team who you notice is concerned all about how he continually overachieves his individual sales targets and is reluctant to share his best practices with his colleagues to continue being on top, shuffle his targets. Assign him as a mentor to someone who is probably struggling with his sales, and tie-in his performance to that of the overall team. Interestingly, such moves, while not actually changing such a person’s basic nature, would prod him to act in a way which would be beneficial to the overall team’s performance and morale.
- Be upfront and share third-party views: The kind of image an employee has at work often crops up in the picture even before you’ve yourself had an opportunity to know him. This especially applies if you’re taking on a managerial role at a new company, where you do not know beforehand the type of team you have been landed with. In such scenarios, rather than finding out yourself about each individual over a period of many weeks – which might continue to let the bad seeds flourish – have a confidential chat with each team member and let him / her know of what his / her image has been portrayed to you as. The chances are, such a candid discussion would often turn the tables right from the beginning where your subordinates are likely to respect you more, and pitch in with a more holistic attitude at work – which might be a far cry than what they had been doing earlier under their previous boss.
Trying out the above mentioned tricks have helped me manage a diverse array of my employees over the years. At the end of the day, it is not about attempting to make radical personality changes in your team – rather, it is about people management.