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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A great performer but of bad character

As the dust settles on the 2011/2012 season of the English Premier League, and as the celebration and sulking give way to reality, several lessons abound from the league. As Manchester City went on to win the coveted cup after waiting for an entire 44 years, a wait longer than the average age of most of the persons reading this column today, the win did not come without its share of the good and the ugly experiences. Key among the experiences relate to one Mario Balotelli. His behavior on and off pitch have made him the discussion point across the globe since as much as he is a super player of great strength, he is loved and hated in equal measure because of his unpredictable character.

This experience brings to mind the age old question on how to best manage staff who are great performers but possess undesirable character qualities. You must have come across the said personalities where a staff has been hailed as great performer but has character flaws that could jeopardize the otherwise good performance. The said staff could be a gossip, uses vulgar language on colleagues and clients or even attempts to defraud the company once in a while. Should we be concerned about staff character so long as they are good performers? Shouldn't performance be all that matters?

For a staff to be branded as a good performer, we should consider more factors and not just their achievement of the laid out targets and objectives. As much as hitting the target is a great thing for a staff, hitting the targets through moral processes should always be the concern of every staff. The character of the staff determines the overall performance of the team. If the character of one staff affects the performance of the rest of the team, it should be a reason to worry by the management. The employer should be keen to reward an employee not just because of what they have achieved but for both ‘the what and the how’ they have achieved the indicated targets.

As much as a staff’s performance is great today regardless of the character, only time will tell since character flaws have been known to cripple great performers. We have witnessed great politicians, religious leaders, footballers and great parents brought down to their knees by their poor character. It has been said that character is the foundation on which every sustainable success is built. Without a positive character, the current performance is truly built on quicksand and should hence not be celebrated. How many of the leaders around us have we frowned upon due to their poor character regardless of their great performance?

This is therefore a wakeup call to all staff, recruiters and supervisors to place equal premium on both character and performance. I overheard a senior executive indicate that they would rather pick on character given a choice between performance and character. The reasoning is that staff of good character can easily be moulded to perform while persons of poor character generally take a while to be reformed as they may not in the first place value a personal reform agenda. No wonder most of the employers today seek to know more about the candidates they interview beyond their indicated high achievement on the CV.

And so, as you consider your career growth, find ways of strengthening the foundation and beautifying the paths by reflecting positive and admirable character. You can never go wrong with a good character. It is a trait that will take you places.

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