Repair Shop Advice

Don’t Keep the High-Performing Jerk

November 6, 2018

If you watched more than a handful of cartoons as a kid, you remember all of the evil geniuses.  Their names were different in each show, but they were always trying to rule the world, and the heroes always stopped them.  Did you ever wonder if the heroes could make the world a better place if they could get the evil genius to work for them?

Of course not – the evil geniuses couldn’t improve the world because they were evil.  They were greedy.  They were narcissistic.  They enjoyed watching people suffer.

But if that’s so obvious, why do we hire them in real life?

Auto repair shops don’t keep evil geniuses because they like them.  They keep them because they’re highly skilled.  Some of them aren’t evil, they just aren’t fun to be around – at all.  Still, maybe they’re a productive tech with a unique knowledge set, and having to replace them in this hiring environment would be a tremendous liability.

Shop managers might even look back on their successes and wonder how they would have achieved them without the contributions of this resident jerk.  The reality is that they could have achieved so much more without them.

Consider a couple of companies who lost their visionary leader and are still doing just fine.  Apple has become the world’s first publicly traded trillion-dollar company since Tim Cook took over from Steve Jobs.  Uber’s value has increased by tens of billions of dollars since Travis Kalanick left.  In both cases, the loss of a heartless prodigy was offset by the benefits of a new leader capable of respect and compassion.

The problem with having a jerk in your shop is that you get to see all of their contributions, but you don’t get to see what you forfeit by employing them.  You see their hard work, but you don’t know how much their bad attitude drags down your other employees.  You can see the value they add to the company, but you never really know what kind of risk they bring until that risk becomes reality.

So if you’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with a high-productivity jerk in your shop, there are plenty of good options.  Just make sure that whichever one you choose involves showing them the door.

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