Exorcise your organization's inner dysfunctions today.

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Yep, we're still talking about how creating a workplace that embraces leadership, innovation, and creativity. Why? because people - not just clever marketing and cool messages - are at the heart of your brand.

I think it goes without saying that passionate, engaged, talented people will yield far superior results than equally talented but bored, stressed, and unhappy people.

If your workplace isn't engaging, fun and rewarding, if your team members aren't on a mission, if they don't feel excited about the work they do for you, you may still be able to attract talent (especially if you're a big name brand,) but a) you won't be able to tap their full potential - which sucks, and b) you won't be able to hold on to them for very long.

If you haven't taken the time to make an honest internal assessment of your company or department lately, maybe now's a good time to start planning for one.

Whether you hire consultants or create a simple annonymous feedback or survey program, here are some of the positive and negative things to look for:

(Thanks to David Armano, of the downright awesome Logic+Emotion blog for pointing us in the right direction with this post. All of the references are posted there.)

First, here are the Seven Deadly Deficiencies most likely to turn up in professional organizations. These are pretty general negative traits or attitudes that trickle down from poor leadership. (Remember the line in G.I. Jane? "There are no bad crews. Only bad leaders." Yeah. That one.) These can all be traced back directly to lousy leadership.

Note: They don't affect high-performers specifically, and thus fall under the category of equal-opportunity dysfunctions.

For extra style points when discussing any of these dysfunctions, you may use any of them in the same sentence with the word "malaise." Here we go:

1. Contempt for others
2. Obsession with self
3. Commitment dysfunction
4. Inflexible mindset
5. No productive focus
6. Unrelenting pessimism
7. Embraces Dilbertian views of leaders

If any of these turn up in your own back yard, seek outside professional help immediately.

(If all seven turn up, the Vatican may be able to hook you up with a good exorcist.)

Second, here are the Eight Ways to Wipe Out High Performers. These are, as the header subtly suggests, problems that will specifically cause the superfly talent you've spent so much time and money recruiting to start looking for the emergency exit:

1. Work overload
2. Lack autonomy (micromanagement)
3. Skimpy rewards
4. Loss of connection
5. Unfairness
6. Value conflicts
7. Let low-performers ride
8. Create an environment of fear, uncertainty and doubt

Think of each one of these as a 10% reduction in that high performer's efficiency. (I completely made that number up, but it seems about right.) Put three of those together, and your talent will leave you inside of 18 months. Guaranteed. (#8 counts for 30% instead of 10.)

Now that we've taken a little tour of all the things that may be wrong with your organization, here are things you should strive to do right:

Ten Ways to Build Passion

10. See greatness in those around you and share your vision
9. Express constructive feedback in terms of "the vision"
8. Believe that things can be different and approach the improbable with optimism
7. Set high standards for performance and hold EVERYONE accountable
6. Demonstrate courage, judgement, risk-taking and continuous improvement in your own performance
5. Recognize and celebrate success
4. Design growth experiences that stretch but don't break people
3. Invest in trust and even love
2. Respond maturely to failures and setbacks
1. Push power and decision making down

"Success depends more on the strengths you emphasize than the weaknesses you minimize."

Pow. Exactly.

And lastly, here are a few insightful quotations about how to deal with high performers, also from Logic+Emotion:

"High performers drive you nuts sometimes. You need to enjoy that. Steer them, frame their objectives, but don't repress them." --Terry Leclair, Senior PD Director at Intuit

"High performers are like 'thoroughbreds'. They require lots of care and feeding - but boy can they run." -- Tobey Corey, Founder US Web

"As a leader you have the obligation to define the 'what' to the nth level - to get to goals for the right level - to make sure the 'what' is right. But you don't want to dictate the 'how'. You want to give the team and the individual the determination of 'how'. -- Pankaj Shukla, VP, Quickbooks PD at Intuit "

Pass it on.

No, really. Pass it on.

Have a great day, everyone. :)

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