What do you do with a high performing employee whose values don’t line up with the organization?

It’s just a fact of human nature – Not everyone has the same set of values. But what should you do if you discover that one of your high performers is a values mismatch with your organization?

There are two aspects to evaluating people: One is performance and the other is citizenship—whether people are operating closely in relation to your values.

If a person is a lousy performer and also not a good values match, that’s an easy decision. The tough decision is what to do if you have a high performer who’s just not a good citizen—this person is not following your values. What do you do?  Well, if your values are important, you have to deal with it.

A few years ago we fired our top salesperson. That really sent a message out. He was a great performer, but our number one value is ethics, our number two value is relationships, number three is success, and number four is learning. He was focusing all his energy on the success value. He was doing stuff that really wasn’t right and he was stepping on other people’s toes. We talked to him and tried to work with him, but finally decided we needed to share him with our  competition.

Remember: If you don’t deal with a values mismatch and you just let it go, pretty soon your people will say, “Those values are on the wall but they don’t mean anything.” Don’t let that happen in your organization.

3 thoughts on “What do you do with a high performing employee whose values don’t line up with the organization?

  1. I agree with your decision; organizational values are more than individual values. One individual can contribute to poor public image of an organization. This does not negatively affect that one employee but all employees and all shareholders.
    It is important to orientate employees on the values of the organization and really check with them on their commitment to these values during the first 3 months and periodically at times of assessment.

  2. I want to agree, and would hope I would but it could depend on how well the overall business was performing. I’m not sure I’d fire my top sales person if the alternative was bankruptcy… Can this therefore be an absolute principle?

  3. Tough decision. It would be best to correct the issue when it first shows up, hopefully early in their employment. If that doesn’t happen and the person is established and doing well in other aspects it becomes harder to correct and the choice may have to be made between re-training and termination. An established process should be available.

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