Why you should thank your most dysfunctional employee

Your manager would like to speak with you.

It's easy to forget the stumbles and screw ups that woke us up to doing things differently. It's also easy to get so focused on doing things 'right' once you've got a good thing going. Employee mistakes and poor habits are frustrating, and sometimes seem unbelievable. If you're still employing them despite all that fuss, they can be some of the most valuable assets you've got.

You know who I'm talking about. The one who always responds with excuses. The one who always is griping about travel expenses. The one who used the credit card because it was the 'right' thing to do and you were unreachable.

Take their cues

What does their predicament tell you about your management systems? What does their overwhelm tell you about your own? These types of employees, while some might eventually need to move on, are giving you important cues for where structure and support may be missing, and help you see blind spots in yourself. Sure it'd be great if you knew all this before you went into business, but here's the opportunity in real time. Listening to your employees is as important as listening to your customers. After all, as Krulak's Law states: "The closer you get to the front lines, the more power you have over the Brand."

Learning as you go

Taking in new information to develop your management strategy and systems as you run the business is a crucial and uncommon skill set. You've already done it to some degree to simply be in business, but did you stop somewhere along the way- when things became...good enough? 

Unlikely gratitude.

Make time and space to collect what you consider to be the dysfunctions and frustrations of your employees. Write it down. Now look at this information objectively against what you do and don't have in place to give employees clarity for their responsibilities. What's missing from your strategy that envisions a great company environment and relationships? How might a tweaked policy, or role clarification help eliminate a frustration in the future by eliminating the lack of clarity?

Find out, I bet you have much more data than you thought to help you grow your company culture.