Twice in the last month I’ve come across two businesses with a “no a@$h@&*” policy. In both instances the employee in mention was a high-performing, high revenue-generating salesperson. While big generators, they also caused a lot of stress and heartache among the other employees and departments.
The stress and heartache aren’t worth it. Stop tolerating the behavior.
The first story came from our 2023 Dealership of the Year in the large multi-store revenue category (see our next issue for full coverage). The CEO told us how the dealership had a salesperson who was bringing in $30 million plus annually, but also was highly-skilled in being a jerk to the parts and service staff. He thought he was untouchable — no one would ever fire a guy bringing in that kind of dough, right? But his attitude and behavior were so toxic that the dealership risked losing the rest of the team.
He let the salesperson go. And as it turned out, the replacement brought in $55 million last year. Even better, he says, the relationship between sales, parts and service improved. Soon, everyone was rowing in the same direction and moving the entire enterprise forward. There was no longer one jerk holding everyone back.
It’s now part of the dealership's onboarding, he says. “If you’re an a@$h@&* you can’t work here,” he says. “That’s the bottom line — be nice to people, respectful and give them grace. We want to be an employer of choice. And if people don’t want to come here because you’re an a@$h@&*, we’re going to lose. So we started firing a@$h@&*s. And some of them were top producers.”
“There was no longer one jerk holding everone back...”
Today, the dealership tells its new employees, “If you are not coming in to make your teammates’ lives easier, you will not make it here,” says the COO.
The other example was shared in Richard Bryan’s book Being Frank. Bryan is making a return to the equipment dealer audience as the kickoff presenter at the 2023 Dealership Minds Summit. As young leader in the family’s UK-based dealership, he was tasked with a turnaround situation. He hired a consultant by the name of Frank and they attacked the problems to put it back on profitable ground.One of Frank’s non-negotiables was there would be no room for prima donnas. Bryan tells the story of a top salesperson with a bad attitude who bullied the other salespeople, let customers down and thought he was fireproof. And of course, was one the top producers.
While he was bringing in the dollars during a time of financial struggle, he also brought ample customer complaints. Unwilling to change, he was fired. And much like the Dealership of the Year story, the person who replaced the bad apple ended up being the top salesperson by the end of the year.
Don’t Tolerate Bad Attitudes. With the challenges that exist in finding good people right now, the idea of firing a high performer can be daunting. You have to decide for yourself what matters most to your organization – personal sales heroics or a true team environment where everyone is rowing in the same direction and building something greater – together. And to consider whether these results and teamwork have to be mutually exclusive.
Another question: What message does it send to the rest of your team when you tolerate bad behaviors? Looking the other way, or tolerating a@$h@&*’s sends a message about your culture as well.