Blogging from a live presentation by
Stephen Paskoff, President and CEO, Employment Learning Innovations, Inc.
What is a Big Shot?
They don’t think the rules apply to them.
Regardless of what they, say they think legal and compliance are barriers and an interference in terms of getting things done–instead of a core responsibility in their roles, which it is.
They don’t like to be challenged and operate with a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do mentality.
Examples of things big shots say:
- “I deliver results in my way, just let me get my job done.”
- “I work 24/7 and don’t have time to coddle my team, they need to get results, that’s it.”
- “I don’t make errors… and if I did, let’s keep whatever you think happen to ourselves, okay?”
- “You know what my revenues are, and I don’t have time to justify expense reports or double-check the numbers I turn in.”
Big shots unchecked can lead to career and reputational damage, individually and for the organization.
Tip from Steve: When you talk to them about behavior, talk about safety, quality and productivity in your organization – make them understand the risks of tolerating this behavior.
Why are they tolerated?
They’re big producers. Ask yourself if their results are worth the harm to viability of the organization?
They’re part of the old boys club–cultural inertia.
They’re experts–“I’m a brilliant nuclear engineer, you need me.”
Some are just intimidating…and keep others from speaking up.
They are incredibly adept at “managing up”. They are emotionally intelligent and can convince others that their results are more important than the undesirable behavior.
How leaders can keep big shots in line:
Model institutional values and show support for the compliance department
Communicate and integrate your values throughout the entire organization
Hold everyone accountable and intervene when they witness unethical behavior
Build an open culture by encouraging everyone to speak up
Follow up and reinforce your organizational values
Bringing Big Shots in Line
Get Accurate Facts
- Interview everyone and get an accurate view of the big shot’s behavior
- Get others to open up to you about the big shot’s actions
Build a Business Case
- Tie the big shot’s unethical behavior to a direct business consequence
- Many big shots have a network of advocates, you need to be able to show how the disruptive behavior will affect your business
- Redefine what excellent performance means
- This includes getting leadership sponsors and buy-in from those more senior than the big shot
Develop a Corrective Action Plan including:
- Your initial communications
- The organization’s behavioral standards
- Ongoing measurement and how success will be defined
- Meaningful support to the individuals
- Holding the big shot accountable for their actions at all times
Follow Through (or it doesn’t mean anything)
Teaching Big Shots to Behave
Ask them questions to get them thinking. Their behavior isn’t a result of lack of cognition, rather it’s that they haven’t thought how it affects others.
You can start with some quick, down, and dirty questions:
It’s going to come out sooner or later, so how much do you think you’re worth?
I’m really concerned that your name will be in the headlines. Are you?
Here are some potential questions to ask in response to common big shot excuses:
- “Look at the revenue I bring in!”
- Will that revenue cover a 7-figure verdict?
- I’m just relieving stress (when telling inappropriate jokes or saying inappropriate things)
- Are you saying you can’t do your job without telling sexual or racial jokes?
- I’ve always done it this way
- What other aspects of your job are the same as they were 10 years ago?
- “The others are just as bad.”
- In what other ways do you violate our rules because everyone else does?
- “You can’t say anything anymore without someone getting offended.”
- What, specifically, do you think you can no longer say?
- “I’ll just take my business elsewhere.”
- Where exactly is this behavior appropriate?
- “I don’t have time to handle it that way. Do you know how busy I am?”
- How much time do you have to prepare for trial?
- “It’s their word against mine.”
- Why do you think you would be believed?
- “My lawyer will handle this…”
- Are you sure you want your lawyer to handle this?
Tip from Steve: When dealing with big shots, change focus from regulations to business consequences.
You can build a culture that prevents big shot behavior. The key is preventing, detecting, and addressing problems as part of your compliance function.