Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

Dangerous People

It sounds quite obvious not to hire people who are dangerous.  The problem is people can have a nice resume, can sound quite articulate in interviews and we buy this false persona.   They can also have a lot of energy, can be quite forthright and outgoing.  They are often brimming with confidence and self-belief.  On the surface, it all looks fine.  The issues come out though in dribs and drabs.  
They often have a weak association between their mouth and their brain.  They shoot their mouth off, with great vigor, babbling stuff and easily overwhelm others around them.  The content of this babbling becomes the future pain point for the organisation.  Their mouths are too fast for their brains. Stream of consciousness thinking probably works better in literature, than it does in business.
I was facilitating a brainstorming session and observed a painful reality.  Loud, aggressive, dim people can do major damage to companies.  They compensate for their intellectual inferiority complex by becoming very vocal, dominant and aggressive.  Considered, steady, sensible people allow the dangerous air to breathe, because they are polite, fair, want to see everyone contributing and are open to a variety of ideas.  
This is fine in the idea generation stage, what we call "green light thinking" and that is exactly what is needed.  By the way, when you are doing brainstorming, don’t mix idea creation and idea evaluation together at the same time.  Separate them out.  The problems arise though when we get to the idea parsing stage or "red light thinking".  
Here the need to be dominant surges up in these dangerous people and they push their ideas, not through the value of the contribution, but through the force of their personality.  This is why it is often better to have an outside facilitator, who can be oblivious to the internal politics of the organisation and can make sure that everyone gets heard - not just the loud, aggressive, agitating and voluminous.  Because they are usually not deep, reflective thinkers, they rely exclusively on top of mind idea generation.  That is fine, but the best idea creators will take those starter ideas further or will plumb the depths of possibility of an idea and go much further, much richer.
Another dangerous employee variety is the seemingly intelligent sort.  Most of what they say seems reasonable, but their analytical ability is weak.  They tend to damage companies more by what they miss and don’t contribute.  They are harder to spot because their camouflage is pretty good.  The damage often only becomes apparent after the event.  These are the missed opportunities, the chances never seized, the information never proffered, the connections never made, the added value never added.
This is the brand killer for companies.  The clients realise later they have been short changed by these dangerous people.  They find out there were parts of the system they could have mobilized to boost their business, but that little morsel was never offered.  There was a timing advantage that closed out unrealised. 
When the clients raise the point, they are unhelpfully told "oh yes, you could have done that".  This makes clients irate.  They are immediately gripped with the thought, "then why on earth didn’t you tell me?".  
They have spent the money and the time to subsequently discover they only got partial value.  They now understand they have just witnessed a splendid opportunity go sailing by unrealised.  Successful businesses make every post a winner and cannot tolerate lost opportunities.  The buyer servicing organisation’s reputation and brand are now potentially shredded by the activities or actually non-activities, of these dangerous people.
How do these brand assassins survive?  Their bosses are to blame.  They are not educating them, guiding them, controlling them sufficiently.  They are too busy, too distracted or too trusting.  Maybe the boss is not the sharpest tool in the toolbox as well, so now we really start to multiply our problems.  Or it could be there is no internal mechanism to work on analytical skills. The educational backgrounds may have been a "once over lightly" approach to decision-making, problem solving and situational analysis.
Dangerous people reading this article won’t recognise themselves.  They are simply too confident, based on nothing in particular.  They lack self-awareness and they lack it almost completely.  Left to their own devices they will hurt you.  Search them out and either fix them or find a place where they cannot hurt you any further when dealing with clients.
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