The Ideal Employee and the C word

Not all Boards function efficiently, effectively and professionally; and it usually comes down to people followed closely by process.

In difficult trading times the cracks of underperformance are harder to paper over, passengers easier to spot and tensions more obvious – one of the usual responses is a board away day, which are not always guaranteed to deliver the desired outputs and not always guaranteed to run smoothly.

On one such away day we’d covered company charters, employee statements, customer statements, vision and values – all bundled up by the C word CULTURE.

Open discussion had led us to considering the type of people we enjoyed working with, and the type of people we would like to work with in a high-performance team. Very quickly we had a white board full of the attributes, behaviours and cultures of The Ideal Employee – the ABC’s.

 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  Matthew 7 v3

Now it was much closer to home, more personal, more than an exercise, more demanding and more revealing.

By the end of the day we had a list for the Ideal Director in a high-performance team and more importantly we had agreed to take our senior managers through the same process and compare our respective lists.

At the end of the company wide process we had involved our people in rationalising 3 very long ideal lists for employees, managers and directors down to ten ABC’s on each; and agreed 4 common ratings – the bottom one being “development opportunity”.

Throughout the process we had ensured that everyone felt that, they had had the opportunity to contribute and that they recognised, that although the culture had been instigated from the top, they had been able to help shape it – which helped create ownership of our high performance culture.

Unsurprisingly, many of the ABC’s were duplicated across the lists and just tweaked to reflect the role, for example: Team Player and / or Leadership. The lists were available to all employees and actively used to support, encourage and challenge behaviours within the business; and formed the basis of the company’s appraisal system, which in turn generated some real conversations that benefited all 3 parties – you, them and the company.

Oh, the compact mirror image… that was my idea to help keep the ABC’s in minds of my team – especially at the times they might have been tempted to complain and blames others around them. It sat on desks and in top drawers with the pens, post-its, mints, ibuprofen and staplers, and said everything that was required in two words IDEAL EMPLOYEE?

If you would like to receive a copy of The Ideal Manager’s ABC’s, email me at

Since 2013 I have been helping ambitious SMEs with their Strategic and Leadership challenges.

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Posted in Appraisals, Company Culture, Engagement, leadership, The Boardroom
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