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The Dance of Lemons

The Dance of Lemons

By: Ross Paterson

We were working with Vice Presidents and General Managers from multimillion dollar businesses last week in our Leadership Xcelerator Forum. Though each used different terms, four of them talked about struggles with the “Dance of the Lemons.”

We see this problem in many family owned businesses, small and large. The Lemon is the nice guy, a family member of the owner, or other long-time employee that just can’t deliver results.  They get passed around between departments, given superficial work to do, and frequently bring high drama with their mediocre results.

The conflict is real. Owners want two things; to take great care of their employees, while avoiding the pain of dealing with these tough people problems. It borders on malpractice in some cases when we take better care of the ‘lemons’ than we do our ‘rockstars.’

The negative impact of not taking care of the real problem is crushing. The morale of your leaders suffers as they get beat up for performance issues, but can’t make needed changes to the lineup. The engagement of the workforce declines when the expectation bar for some employees is set low, and everyone else has to make up the difference.

Owners, you are the only ones who can fix this dance. Do you really want to lose your best employees and leaders?