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The MHC Blog

Powerful Business Insights for Succesful Leaders

The BC employee trap

Anyone who has had responsibility for a team will probably have had to deal with a BC player at some time.  A BC player is someone that is performing in their role at the right level, potentially performing over and above your expectations, however, they are a square peg in a round hole.  They just don’t fit for whatever reason and because of this they are rubbing you and the rest of the team up the wrong way. 

 BC players are difficult characters to manage but manage them you must, or you will fall into the trap of showing that results are more important than the culture of your Company.

 Here are 3 traps that show how it’s easier to retain than deal with a BC player:

  1. They are your top performers!

Here is an example, Company XYZ employees a BC Player as a Department Manager.  This Manager is quite frankly a bully but not in an obvious way, he doesn’t shout and scream but wears the team down by criticising everything they do, demonstrating coercive control. 

The team could head into a short catch up meeting with the Manager only to finally leave the room exhausted and emotionally wreaked 4 hours later after they have had their work criticised to make sure they couldn’t have performed better.

The attrition within the team is extremely high, HR are constantly replacing team members who just couldn’t take the pressure anymore.  The Company are completely aware of the situation but do nothing to help – this is the highest performing department in the Company, the numbers are outstanding, therefore the Company is not willing to deal with the Manager.

The departments results are more important to them than the mental stress that has been placed on the team members.

  1. They know too much!

They have been with the Company so long they know “where the bodies are buried”.  They hold the history of the Company and past clients in their head. Perhaps they are the only team members that know how the antiquated system you are using works.

If you did remove them from the Company, this “history” leaves with them out the backdoor and walks potentially into your biggest competitor’s front door. Isn’t it easier to hold onto this employee than allow them to take their information to your competitor?   

What if you need the information that only they know to deal with a situation in the future?  However, they no longer fit into the Company ethos and you are beginning to feel as though they are holding you hostage with their knowledge.

  1. They are a family member!

Either literally or they feel like a family member.  They may have been with you from the beginning, were someone who bent over backwards to help you set up the Company, perhaps they took a lower or zero salary to help out or covered many roles to help you start up, but you have to face it, whilst the Company has grown and the culture formed, the Family “member” just seems out of place now.

If the above resonates with you, then you will know just how difficult it is to make the final decision and take the action required to deal with the situation. 

Often the feeling of “square peg, round hole” comes from the employee not following your Company internal rules, expectations or culture.  They are likely to be a maverick, making their own decisions and following their own path, admittedly often hitting financial targets and expectations, but in their own way which just doesn’t feel right.

Ask yourself just how important are your Company values, rules and expectations? If, when you consider this question the answer is “actually, when it comes down to it, its fine that they don’t following them”, then great, but then this is not a Company value, rule or expectation, so do not hold the rest of the Company to it.

However, if the answer is “very important”, if you allow one individual to get away with it then you are setting a precedence.  You cannot have one rule for employee A because they are over performing/know the history/Great Uncle George and another rule for everyone else.

The values of your Company form your culture.  They are so important that we advise to hire for Company culture and train for the skills of the role.  The culture is the glue of a Company that see it through both the good and challenging times ahead.  Having one member of the team doing their own thing, sitting on the outskirts of the group, is not conducive of a highly operating team. 

Ask yourself, what cost, financial and/or emotional, are you willing to pay to keep this employee with the Company?  All employees are watching how you deal with them, if you choose to ignore the situation, you are confirming that this behaviour is acceptable and encouraged. 

You need to deal with the Employee.  Pick up your disciplinary procedure, and start working through the process, starting with a verbal warning.  The employee needs to know that even though they are hitting targets and performing at the right level, know too much or are seen as family, they need to make changes in how they behave in the Company to remain employed by them. 

There is no denying that a disciplinary process is a whole lot easier to follow if there is something work related that the employee is doing wrong, its not that easy to hold your ground when they just don’t fit and need to change their approach or behaviour.  I can guarantee that the feeling you will have when the square peg leaves the Company will be a breath of fresh air quickly proving that the action you have taken to get them to leave the Company was correct.


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Claire Donnelly

Written by Claire Donnelly

A Business Growth and HR Strategist helping medium size companies to Scale Up using proven systems. Claire is an MCIPD qualified Human Resource professional, with 25+ years’ experience working within various industries and 10 + years’ experience of HR practices throughout the Middle East. As a HR Generalist she has held a number of senior and Board level HR positions. She is experienced in working at both strategic and tactical levels.

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